Sage Health CEO John Haskell’s father was hospitalized for more than a month and the care he received was inadequate, he believed. His primary care provider was absent, and some of the medical professionals that attended him didn’t bother to read his medical records.
At one point, his father suffered from an accidental medication overdose due to a pharmacy error. Haskell decided he wanted to try and create a better option for seniors and their families. Sage Health, based in Nashville, Tenn., was born.
Three Sage Health centers will be opened by the end of the year in Central Arkansas, the company recently announced. One center opened in North Little Rock in late October and two more centers will be opened later this year in Little Rock and Bryant.
“Sage Health was founded to open doors to better health for all seniors,” said John Haskell. “This is not a conventional doctor’s office – these are highly equipped and comfortable centers led by highly trained physicians experienced with complex health needs.”
Through Sage, patients will have access to holistic primary care, cardiology, and wellness services. It will also offer on-site community amenities including social activities, fitness and nutrition counseling, and mental health services.
“Seniors often have complex medical and social needs, and it takes time to fully address those,” said Michael Davidson, Sage Health chief medical officer. “It’s important that patients have the opportunity to fully understand their diagnosis and treatment options and know they are not alone in their health journey.”
Each center is equipped with diagnostics and treatments for chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. Sage Health staff coordinates specialist care.
Each center will have activity rooms and spaces to offer social activities, fitness programs, nutrition programs, mental health services, and community service opportunities. Fitness classes are offered on-site for such activities as cardio dance, tai chi, yoga, and bodyweight strength training. An acupuncture/acupressure therapist can assist patients with mild pain management, nerve disorders, and general wellness.
The company serves a niche market as compared to their competitors, Market Medical Director Dr. Mark Malloy said.
“One of the differences, we accept Medicare Advantage plans only, but you can have Medicare Advantage plus Medicaid, and that’s acceptable as well. So it’s kind of a narrow market. These folks are obviously Medicare age and above. They’re elderly,” he said. “Another thing that sets us apart is that each provider will be limited to 400 patients. Most providers in America have 1,500 to 2,000 patients.”
One problem area for many seniors happens after they get discharged from a hospital or clinic, Malloy said. Many have questions about the medications they’ve been prescribed or other questions about what afflicts them.
“We want to get those folks plugged back in here so that we can knit together all those different interactions they’ve had with the medical community,” he said.
Company officials wanted emphasize the centers are not Urgent Care or similar care facilities. Sage Health centers are a senior center, physician clinic, and concierge healthcare facility wrapped into one. They will even arrange transportation for patients if it’s needed.
Earlier this year, Sage Health announced plans to open 11 senior health and wellness centers in Alabama, Arkansas, Maryland and Mississippi. Sage plans to open more clinics throughout Arkansas in the future.
Recruiting patients for a healthcare startup is a labor-intensive task, said Dreia Fuller, area sales manager.
“We are feet on the street, and when I say that we’re feet on the street, we are any place that we think seniors will be. We have different meet-and-greet lunch-and-learns with them at senior assisted living centers, assisted living centers, independent living centers, health fairs. We establish health fairs. We have different activities where we invite them into our centers to take tours of the center, to get a chance to meet the physicians, to get a chance to meet the staff,” she said.
Editor’s note: Roby Brock contributed to this story.