How Cano Health is Redefining Primary Care In our Own Backyard
Byline: David Zarco
A healthcare company with strong community ties is raising the bar in primary care while tackling healthcare inequity head on. Cano Health, a leading provider of value-based primary care focused on seniors, is providing a new primary care model.
Historically, healthcare institutions have been associated with treating, rather than preventing illness. Cano Health sees this as a flawed model ripe for change. Dr. Marlow Hernandez, CEO of Cano Health, is determined to lead by example by showcasing a unique value-based model that rewards providers for keeping patients healthy, rather than only treating patients when they are sick.
“Unfortunately, healthcare today is terribly misaligned. The sicker patients are, the more profitable they are. This is unacceptable,” said Dr. Marlow Hernandez, CEO at Cano Health. “At Cano Health, we have flipped that flawed idea on its head. Instead, our value-based model is designed to make us profitable when we prevent illness, not when we treat complications.”
For Dr. Hernandez, this not only leads to better care, but is also changing a broken healthcare system by naturally incentivizing better, proactive care that measurably improves outcomes and keeps patients healthier and out of the hospital. By doing this, Cano Health is demonstrating that the goals of medicine as a business can in fact align with the objectives of healthcare. That is – making what’s best for the patient also best for the business – the way it should be.
Cano Health’s refreshing approach continues to improve quality of life in the communities it serves by delivering superior primary care services that produce better clinical outcomes at lower costs, while forming lifelong bonds with its members, a philosophy Dr. Hernandez believes re-establishes humanity in healthcare.
“At Cano Health, we treat patients like family,” said Dr. Hernandez. “It’s important that, while focusing on improving outcomes, we don’t lose that human touch that is sorely missing in healthcare today. Wellness is more than checkups. That’s why we take a holistic approach to care that extends beyond the exam room into our wellness centers where patients participate in personalized physical, social, and intellectual activities that play an important role in overall health and wellness.”
Cano Health’s wellness centers have become synonymous with what the company stands for – family and community. Housed within many of Cano Health’s medical centers, patients have access to wellness activities including yoga, dancing, nutrition courses, and even dominoes. These wellness centers capture South Florida’s rich Hispanic culture through music, food, and activities, helping build lifelong bonds, not just among staff and patients, but between patients themselves. This makes Cano Health feel like nothing short of a second home.
Clinically, Cano Health prevents and treats a full spectrum of conditions through a variety of primary care services. It also provides free prescription delivery, physiotherapy, and at home services for those not able to visit a medical center. For Dr. Hernandez and his team, it’s not just about being able to prevent and treat conditions, but also being able to prove that their practices measurably improve outcomes.
“We are demonstrating significant improvements in several conditions including diabetes and chronic kidney disease,” said Dr. Hernandez. “We are also making great strides in addressing pain management and mental health. The data shows that when it comes to measurably improving outcomes, we’re not just talking the talk, we’re walking the walk.”
Cano Health has taken this South Florida-born model and grown it to about 280,000 members across more than 140 medical centers nationwide, from Florida to California. While the goal may be to become the national leader in primary care, Cano Health still nurtures its homegrown identity, one that was formed more than a decade ago.
Dr. Hernandez’s personal journey is one that resonates deeply with many South Florida immigrants. In 1993, he was forced to flee Cuba at 8 years old with his family. He was inspired to go into Medicine by his mother, who is a dentist, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami, and degrees in medicine, business, and public health from Nova Southeastern University.
In 2009, while a medical student, he identified a dire national need in his community as countless people lost healthcare coverage during the recession: healthcare access. His response was to open the first Cano Health medical center in Pembroke Pines, which he combined with his mother’s dental practice, offering medical and dental services for one flat monthly rate. It was an attempt to make quality healthcare affordable for everyone, with an emphasis on seniors and the underserved. And it worked.
“I’ve been inspired by that experience to work to make healthcare more equitable in this country,” said Dr. Hernandez. “It’s not a coincidence that this vision was born in South Florida, with its vibrant community of immigrants who share stories of sacrifice to achieve a better life in the United States. As a Cuban immigrant, I am driven to do our part to honor their sacrifice by giving them, and others, the quality healthcare they deserve.”
Born locally and fueled from personal passion, Cano Health has matured nationally as a practical solution for primary care. Cano Health’s success story is on its way to becoming America’s success story by transforming healthcare with a better and more sustainable model.
“This is about delivering a care platform that brings us back to the original purpose of healthcare,” said Dr. Hernandez. “It improves access, quality, and wellness so that we can provide better, more equitable care at a lower cost. If we do that, we can help create a strong and fair healthcare system in the United States.”