Why did Wilson Partners' research into DPC cost-reduction bypass uniquely available and pointedly relevant data?

Healthcare Innovations in Georgia:Two Recommendations”, the report prepared by the Anderson Economic Group and Wilson Partners (AEG/WP) for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, makes some valuable contributions to deliberations about direct primary care. The AEG/WP team clearly explained their computations and made clear the assumptions underlying their report.

This facilitates the public discussion that the Georgia Public Policy Foundation sought to foster in publishing the report. I have been examining those assumptions in prior posts and there are more to come. In this post, I continue a multi-post evaluation of AEG/WP’s claims regarding the effectiveness of direct primary care in reducing downstream care costs.

As noted in a prior post, the report by the Anderson Economic Group and Wilson Partners supported the assumption that direct primary care reduces downstream care cost by 15% with nothing more than a cryptic reference to “research and case studies prepared by Wilson Partners”, presented with neither data nor citation. Initially, I thought this secreted research effort might focus on the experience drawn from the SALTA direct care clinics in Michigan.

Let me explain.

David Wilson, the principal of Wilson Partners, co-founded SALTA Direct. At the time of the report, SALTA charged self-insuring self-insuring employers and individual members $70 a month. Wilson’s direct primary care company also boasted that, “The SALTA Direct Primary Care solution has been shown to reduce overall healthcare costs by 20%.”

Wilson’s own company, in other words, both operated at the Qliance-like prices and touted the Qliance-like results needed to support the cost-effectiveness claims assumed by Wilson and his AEG/WP report colleagues. Because of David Wilson’s unique proximity to the SALTA experience, I somehow assumed that data from SALTA formed the backbone of the “research and case studies prepared by Wilson Partners” on which the conclusions of the AEG/WP report so heavily rest.

Well, silly me! The research performed by Wilson Partners for the AEG/WP study apparently did not include any of the cost and performance data of which David Wilson’s SALTA proudly boasts.

Instead, the AEG/WP report authors responded to my request for information by indicating that the “research and case studies prepared by Wilson Partners” comprised the harvesting of three items off the web. One of them was an e-zine article about the CHI clinic. The other two were promotional brochures, denominated as case studies, by the DPC companies Paladina and Nextera and to solicit business from self-insuring employers.

In two upcoming posts, I will examine these items. If they provide sound evidence that direct primary care reduces the costs of downstream care, no one need bother to ask why Wilson’s partnership eschewed data from Wilson’s company.

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