Concierge Medicine Today’s sister publication in the low-cost, monthly subscription-based healthcare delivery model Direct Primary Care (DPC), that The DPC Journal has received multiple confirmations from various sources today [May 17, 2017] that reports from the Puget Sound Business (PBSJ) dated May 16, 2017 are confirmed … Qliance is closing their doors effective June 15, 2017. GeekWire reported today (May 17, 2017 @ 9:46 am) that … In an internal memo from Dr. Erika Bliss obtained by the PSBJ, she said the company was unable to find the funding to last them until they were able to find new contracts. The DPC Journal has confirmed this news as well.
By Michael Tetreault, Editor
“We’ll update the story as soon as we find out more from Qliance.” ~Editor, May 17, 2017
MAY 17, 2017 – Qliance Medical Management Inc. in Seattle, WA — a monthly membership approach to health care which provides a patient-centered approach to see your doctor whenever you need to (memberships between $59-$99/mo)– is shutting down, according to sources cited by The Puget Sound Business Journal and GeekWire.com and now confirmed by The Direct Primary Care Journal (The DPC Journal).
According to story dated May 16, 2017 (CLICK HERE to READ FULL STORY …), Qliance CEO, Dr. Erika Bliss told the PSBJ the company will officially close its doors June 15, 2017 — two weeks after the clinics shut down, June 1st.
Qliance closes after 10-year effort at new approach to basic medical care | Seattle Times, May 17, 2017
“I’m not giving up. I went into medicine to change the health-care system for better. There’s still a lot of work to do. I plan to carry on and make a lot of noise,” Dr. Erika Bliss said.
According to additional reports by The Puget Sound Business Journal and GeekWire (CLICK HERE TO READ FULL STORY), May 17, 2017, … a small team from Qliance will help transition patient needs to other providers over the next month, the memo said. Reports also add … the company will be helping patients with essential services including urgent care and prescription needs.
- OIC, Washington | November 2014: Direct practices lose 35 percent of enrollees, raise fees 23 percent
- RESPONSE: DPC Leadership Response To Nov. 2014 Washington State OIC Report
The closure is disappointing for those promoting direct primary care (DPC) as a model to improve patient outcomes while reducing costs and perhaps increasing patients satisfaction. Qliance was a national leader in the burgeoning DPC movement, providing unrestricted access to primary care through longer appointments, extended hours, and phone and electronic communications with healthcare providers so patients can take care of health needs promptly and avoid downstream care and costs. Dr. Erika Bliss along with her cousin Dr. Garrison Bliss, started Qliance several years ago. Dr. Garrison Bliss left Qliance a year and a half ago to open Bliss MD.
RELATED DPC JOURNAL STORY
“Qliance pivots toward employers in a post-ACA health insurance market. DPC “C-Suite” Weigh-In | November 2015.
In a February 2017 email to The DPC Journal from Dr. Erika Bliss, the CEO at Qliance dated February 16, 2017; Receipt: Thu, Feb 16, 2017 3:43 pm, she noted … We have several very large contracts either signed or in process and have been searching for capital to help us build up the company to be able to take on this new business, but unfortunately there is very little money (we’re talking loans, not even investor money) out there for women-owned businesses without a big name behind them. The female owned company is trying to get funding and can’t get the support needed to do so. No lenders have been willing to step up and be part of the next evolution of healthcare. This is unacceptable that they can’t get the help needed. They have proven we don’t have to live in insurance only healthcare system, and we can be taken care of by the best people with the best care. ~Erika Bliss, MD CEO – Qliance Management Inc.
In early 2016, Qliance was purchased back by co-founder and CEO Dr. Erika Bliss, and president Cheryl Kilodavis.
“The investors decided that they thought the company was ready for its next phase and we mutually agreed that the company was really getting ready to stand on its own 2 feet but probably wouldn’t give them returns in the time period that investors need. After looking at all kinds of different options, Cheryl and I looked at the whole situation and thought that we had a way to make it successful, so we put forward a bid to purchase the assets of the company and the board accepted our offer.” ~GeekWire; March 2016
In November of 2015, Qliance closed on $450,000 in venture funding, according to CrunchBase. As of 2013, Qliance had raised about $33 million in total funding, which it used to expand its direct primary care clinics from two — one in Seattle and Bellevue (in the Expedia building) — to five, adding clinics in Kent, Lynwood, and Tacoma in the last 2 years.
“The company had reached a point where we were looking at the trajectory for growth,” Bliss said.
In 2016, with the recent buyout, Dr. Bliss noted that the company will continue mostly unchanged. Going forward, the company hopes to break even this year and is on track to do so, Bliss said. It is also is focused on a new business model called “Access to Active.”
One of the early pioneers in DPC, if not arguably the pioneer of the mass market variant to today’s Concierge Medicine, Qliance has many accomplishments on record. Qliance will absolutely leave a long and lasting impact with us. Certainly, it has already been studied and emulated by medical students and physicians alike. It will leave a colorful and interesting story to tell for those inside and outside of the free market healthcare delivery periphery.
Qliance provides exceptional access and personalized primary care for a surprisingly affordable monthly membership fee. By working outside the insurance system, we can offer unrestricted same-day appts. 7 days/week for as little as $49-89/mo. ~Qliance Facebook Page; May 17, 2017
Probably one of most notable for some in memory is a Qliance-led research project which they concluded in 2014/2015 and found New Primary Care Model Delivers 20 Percent Lower Overall Healthcare Costs, Increases Patient Satisfaction. The research project cited … “A review of two years’ worth of healthcare claims data on thousands of patients reveals, contrary to the prevailing view, that unlimited primary care drives down overall costs while improving patient outcomes and experience. The analysis by Qliance Medical Management Inc. reveals that the increasingly popular “direct primary care” model, with its emphasis on unrestricted access to primary care, makes healthcare 20 percent less expensive than traditional health insurance yet leaves patients feeling more satisfied with their care.
CONCIERGE MEDICINE TODAY (features Dr. Erika BLISS, MD as Industry Leading Woman In The Business of Healthcare of 2015 ):
“Growing Companies BIG Isn’t Just For The Boys …” — Recognizing Industry Leading Women In The Business of Healthcare of 2015 – READ FULL STORY >>
According to a Business Insider story written by Lydia Ramsey in March of 2017, Qliance evolved from a model startup with investors Jeff Bezos, Michael Dell and others to a great concept. In 2011, Qliance had grown its patient base from 3,500 to 35,000 members, and opened up several new locations in the Seattle area. After signing up travel company Expedia in 2013, Qliance in 2014 added several significant Puget Sound employer groups including Comcast and the Seattle Firefighters’ union. Qliance also added 15,000 new Medicaid patients to its rolls in 2014, opened two new Puget Sound clinics, and became the first “direct primary care” provider in the country to join traditional health plans on the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchange. Revenue for the 32-provider private company grew 300 percent in 2014, according to Bliss.
In 2007, the Washington State Legislature enacted Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5958, which is codified as RCW 48.150. This bill created an innovative primary health care delivery option called “direct practices.” It requires all of the registered practices to respond annually to the mandatory questions.
In 2015, fewer than half of the direct practices chose to report voluntary information. Some said they do not collect this information, and others simply did not respond to the supplementary questions. The bill requires the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) to report annually to the Legislature on direct health care practices. Under RCW 48.150.100(3), this includes but is not limited to “participation trends, complaints received, voluntary data reported by the direct practices and any necessary modifications to this chapter.”
- Read DECEMBER 2015: Wash. State OIC Annual Report to the Legislature ~Wash. OIC [PDF] Download HERE
- Read December 2014 Wash. State OIC Annual Report on DPC … Says, New OIC Report Says: “Promising model for health care [DPC] sees enrollment plummet as ACA takes off.”
- Read DPC Leadership Response (2014) To Washington State OIC Report: ‘Outlook for DPC is bright throughout U.S.’
- Read OIC, Washington: Direct practices lose 35 percent of enrollees, raise fees 23 percent
- Read 2013 Direct patient provider primary care practices (PDF, 418KB)
- Read 2012 Direct patient provider primary care practices (PDF, 254KB)
Direct health care practices (Washington State Only)
- List of direct health care practices in Washington state
Today (May 17, 2017), on the Qliance.com web site, they emphasize … Qliance clinics are designed to address approximately 90 percent of the issues for which patients seek a doctor’s care, including all routine primary and preventive care. This includes women’s health services, pediatric care, urgent care, wellness education, ongoing chronic disease management, select onsite procedures and diagnostics, as well as coordination of outside specialist and hospital care by a Qliance provider.
“I am so touched by this act of solidarity – in these times it is especially uplifting. You all know me and how deeply committed I am to making positive change in this world, and the reason Cheryl and I bought Qliance last year was so that we could make sure that its mission continued to grow. I hear from patients every day who are so grateful for the care provided by our staff, care they tell us they can’t find anywhere and that has changed their lives for the better. I also hear weekly about new Direct Primary Care practices opening across the country to serve their communities in this way. That’s what gets me up every day to keep fighting for health justice for all of us and our future generations.” ~Erika Bliss, MD CEO – Qliance Management Inc.; email to The DPC Journal from Dr. Erika Bliss, the CEO at Qliance dated February 16, 2017; Receipt: Thu, Feb 16, 2017 3:43 pm
According to the Qliance Web Site, Facebook and Twitter feed, no such information about the closure has been posted yet. Qliance has not yet responded to The DPC Journal’s or according to other reports on at 2:26pm EST, nor GeekWire’s requests for comment yet. It is still quite early and no doubt, more news will begin to filter out as time goes on and reflection and schedules become less hectic.
In summary, I think these words from Dr. Erika Bliss state it best …
“Do not be afraid to try something new. If we do not try to do things differently, primary care will continue to languish and we will have a harder and harder time attracting people into the field and ensuring that primary care survives for us, our children, and our grandchildren. You do not have to do it all at once, though – a lot of practices are trying to develop a hybrid model, gradually moving more and more of their Patients to the DPC model. It is challenging to do this if you are caring for large numbers of Patients, but practices are finding ways to do it.” ~Dr. Erika Bliss of Qliance from Concierge Medicine Today’s “125 Insightful Quotes From Legendary Membership Medicine Doctors“
RELATED STORIES of CLOSURES in 2017 IN DIRECT PRIMARY CARE (DPC)
Las Vegas’ Turntable Health closes | Jan. 2017 | ~Las Vegas Weekly
Turntable Health, a membership-based primary care practice in Downtown Las Vegas, will close its doors on January 31. Touted as an affordable and comprehensive alternative to insurance-based healthcare, the Downtown Project-affiliated company notified its members in December that its services would no longer be available. The member-based model, in which patients pay a flat monthly rate of $80 to receive access to a “wellness ecosystem,” including same- or next-day visits; 24/7 physician contact by phone, email or video chat; health coaching; nutrition, yoga and group therapy classes; and an on-site demonstration kitchen.
UnitedHealth shutting down Harken Health
May 16, 2017 – Harken Health was never a major player in the insurance market, but its demise ends an experiment that company officials believed would reduce healthcare costs. The company lost nearly $70 million during the first six months of 2016 and never recovered. The closure will be disappointing for those promoting alternative care models as ways to improve outcomes while reducing costs and perhaps increasing patients satisfaction. In April 2016, then CEO Tom Vanderheyden told Healthcare Dive the company’s care teams would be “empowered with the time to listen and build authentic and trusting relationship with members.” ~HealthcareDIVE Insight | Les Masterson | May 16, 2017