Crain's Health Pulse
February 19, 2016
After cropping up all over Long Island, Northwell/GoHealth Urgent Care has arrived in Westchester. The joint venture between the health system and the Atlanta-based company opened new locations in Tarrytown, New Rochelle and Yorktown Heights in the past few weeks, for a total of 21 sites.
The blitz is far from over. The company plans to add about 20 more New York clinics this year, said Todd Latz, GoHealth's chief executive, in an interview. GoHealth also operates in the Portland, Ore.-Vancouver, Wash. area through a partnership with Legacy Health, and recently announced a partnership with Dignity Health in the San Francisco Bay Area to open 12 clinics during the next 12 to 15 months.
"What GoHealth is doing differently is true partnerships with integrated health systems," Latz said.
Northwell brings expertise in clinical care and quality oversight, while GoHealth has experience in bringing new retail locations to market quickly, said Adam Boll, Northwell's vice president of joint-venture operations. He said the chain also has the benefit of having all on-site imaging interpreted by Northwell's radiologists.
A former corporate transactional lawyer, Latz joined GoHealth in February 2015 and was the company's first employee in Atlanta, where it moved its corporate headquarters last March. Nationwide, the company now has about 300 employees.
The Westchester plan follows Northwell's acquisitions of Phelps Memorial Hospital and Northern Westchester Hospital, which gave the system a presence in the county.
Urgent-care centers have catered to patients with longer hours and more weekend and holiday availability. Boll said some of Northwell/GoHealth's busiest times are when other medical offices aren't open.
The expansion has required a keen eye for scouting new locations. Latz said the company typically targets high-traffic areas, potentially near grocery stores, popular retailers or day-care centers. GoHealth analyzes public demographic data and consults with Northwell to identify community need, specifically looking at wait times for primary-care appointments and the types of cases that show up at local emergency rooms.
"There's an unmet need we've been able to help out with," Latz said.
Boll declined to divulge the locations of future Northwell/GoHealth locations but said "a significant piece" of 2016 openings will be in Westchester, with plans to open clinics across the county.
There were 22 urgent-care centers in Westchester as of October 2014, according to an analysis by the United Hospital Fund using the most recent data available.
Latz declined to share volume figures for its existing clinics but said the company is pleased with its reception in the market so far.
One criticism levied against urgent-care chains is that they haven't done enough to benefit medically underserved areas. Northwell/GoHealth does have a location in LeFrak City, Queens, an area of the borough that has one of the city's highest rates of uninsured residents.
Latz said his company is committed to serving Medicaid managed-care members and works with Northwell's financial assistance program to help the uninsured.
“We believe very strongly in increasing access to care,” he said.
To achieve that goal, Northwell/GoHealth struck recent deals to accept more Medicaid managed-care plans. The clinics became in-network for UnitedHealthcare's Medicaid plan on Feb. 1. A contract with Healthfirst started last August.