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Ricardo Gonzalez, VP and chief financial officer at CommuniCare, is actively building the future of healthcare in extraordinary ways.
CommuniCare, where Gonzalez has served for twenty-four years, is a nonprofit medical system that assists all payers who needs access to medical, behavioral, dental, and/or specialty care. That means virtually every dollar gets reinvested into the organization for patients, for staff, and for the betterment of the communities the organization serves.
But how is it, then, that a nonprofit system has builds in the pipeline that are unlike anything that have been seen in the health space before?
“I think it’s the same reason I’ve stayed here for twenty-four years,” Gonzalez says. “We aren’t paying shareholders. Instead of answering to shareholders, I answer to those who want to see our patients have access to all the services they deserve in the best way we can provide them.”
Gonzalez runs down a dizzying list of current projects he’s helping oversee at CommuniCare, but there are two that may truly revolutionize how CommuniCare’s value-based care is delivered.
There are more traditional builds as well, like the new clinic the organization was able to open on the far west side of San Antonio. The facility that was able to turn a profit in less than a year because of how much the area needed access to care. CommuniCare responded by buying more space, opening a Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) facility and exponentially increasing its square footage that will eventually include more behavioral health, obstetrics, and other services.
The Future of Streamlined Care
CommuniCare has spent significant technological investment in what they hope can become the future of streamlined care. With the purchase of a former bank, the health system is creating a drive-through clinic harnessing the cutting edge of technology. Drive-through lanes will allow potentially contagious patients to stay in their vehicles during the entire exam process, and they will even be able to take flu and strep tests.
“An app will allow patients to check in as soon as they’re in our parking lot, and if they don’t have access to smartphones, we can provide a tablet,” Gonzalez says. “There will be technology that allows medical assistants or nurses can use medical devices that providers and specialists can examine in real-time from wherever they might be. If more examination is required, all they have to do is park their car and come inside.”
This is only a small part of what is possible. If were it a different organization with a different agenda, it might be easy to view this endeavor as a way to get more patients through the door as quickly as possible. But this isn’t the case when one considers the demand for meaningful and holistic healthcare where CommuniCare operates.
Gonzalez is relatively certain that nothing like this has been attempted before. He says he’s proud of the team at CommuniCare for using technology for the betterment of its entire patient population.
All in One
Gonzalez is equally excited about the Multi-Assistance Center (MAC) at San Antonio’s Morgan’s Wonderland, a theme park focused on providing those with physical and developmental disabilities big thrills that they can safely and fully enjoy.
The MAC provides a one-stop medical facility for families and patients who are often used to constant traveling for medical care. CommuniCare operates in a space that seeks to localize the medical needs of patients to a single location.
“Consider a patient who needs to be anesthetized for an immunization,” Gonzalez says. “The MAC can also provide dental care, audiological tests [yes, even while sleeping], and other medical examinations all at the same time. It’s a space 100% built for the special needs of our patients. It’s been a challenge to bring to life, but this is the first place of its kind with this kind of comprehensive scope.”
CommuniCare may seem like it is working on the frontlines of what seems possible in healthcare, Gonzalez says the organization is now one of continually seek out the latest emerging leaders to helm new projects.
“This is an organization that promotes from within,” the CFO explains. “We’ve built a year-long program that helps us understand if someone is ready for a new role or if they should be working toward a different kind of position. So many people I know here, including me, have been promoted into their position. There’s an incredible culture that pushes this organization forward, and I think that’s a big part of it.”