Dr. Cindi Swaim headshot.

Blog | Jan 02, 2024

Empowered PCP: Dr. Cindi Swaim on the Power of Networking to Improve Senior Patient Care

By agilon health staff

As part of our blog series, The Empowered PCP, agilon health shares what we learn from influential voices in the primary care physician (PCP) community about how they’re creating healthier communities through value-based care (VBC) and their perspectives on empowering other PCPs.

At agilon health, our physician network is an essential part of our Total Care Model. It involves bringing together like-minded physicians who share best practices, exchange ideas, and collectively work toward enhancing patient care through value-based care. The physician network enables discussions about program effectiveness and knowledge transfer between experienced and newer practices, ultimately helping all members leverage the agilon model effectively.

Dr. Cindi Swaim, a physician with the Jackson Clinic in Humboldt, Tennessee, has been an agilon health partner since 2021. She explains how engaging with others within the agilon physician network can improve managing and delivering care and enhance the physician-patient relationship.

Q&A with Dr. Cindi Swaim on The Power of agilon’s Physician Network

Question 1: What are some of the successes your practice has seen as a result of partnering with agilon and working with the agilon network?

Answer: Joining agilon’s network has been transformative for my practice. It’s not just about being part of a community of like-minded physicians; it’s about the synergy that comes from sharing insights and learning from each other. This collaboration has directly impacted the way I manage and deliver care. By integrating the collective wisdom and best practices from the network, I’ve been able to refine my approach to patient care, making it more effective and personalized.

Our number one success, like most new markets, is our Benefits of Ownership program. By networking with more experienced agilon partners, both in-person and through the agilon physician network phone directory, our clinic has gained valuable insights into proper diagnosis coding. We’ve already seen a positive impact on patient care, especially for our highest risk senior patients. Also, data from agilon has allowed the clinic to enhance our transitions of care program, ensuring a two-day follow-up after patient hospitalization.

Question 2: To help combat nursing turnover, you created an in-house medical assistants school. Please tell us more about the program and how the network helped the process.

Answer: The value of the agilon physician network through our partnership goes beyond managing daily cases; it extends to the development of new programs. During “COVID recovery,” we were facing a shortage of LPNs and medical assistants applying for jobs. Some of our existing employees were leaving for higher salaried jobs outside of healthcare. We saw an increase in patient care technician applications with a decline in higher licensed nurses. In most outpatient clinic roles, RNs are overqualified and too costly for the organization. We were nearing a crisis moment with open positions for MAs and LPNs as well as increasing turnover.

Through our partnership with agilon and collaboration with other groups, we learned that Piedmont Health had a robust medical assistant program. They had an approved MA curriculum with proven results in their organization. Conversations started in the summer of 2023 – virtual meetings were arranged between the leadership of the Jackson Clinic and Piedmont. They shared their program with us, their successes, and areas for improvement. We tweaked it some for our clinic and implemented our first class in the fall of 2023.

We started interviewing for our next cohort of 10-12 to start in January, and we have over 20 applications for the spots. Those graduating sign a commitment to work with the Jackson Clinic for at least two years in exchange for this education and certificate at no cost to them.

We would not have been able to start this program in such a timely and efficient manner without the partnership with our friends and colleagues at Piedmont. We would not have developed this relationship without our partnership with agilon.

Congestive heart failure is a serious issue for senior patients, leading to frequent hospital admissions. Tell us about the congestive heart failure clinic you set up.

We wanted to reduce admission for congestive heart failure (CHF) patients and also manage costs better, so we started thinking about ways to achieve this. We wanted to talk to other folks who had a CHF clinic to get some ideas, and agilon’s physician network allowed us to do so. We talked with Pinehurst Medical Clinic about their CHF clinic, and we were able to gather some ideas. We looked at what they did successfully and adapted it to our needs.

Based on these conversations, we hired a care coordinator specifically for our cardiology population to work with the CHF clinic and coordinate treatment with our nurse practitioners and cardiologists. Connecting with other clinics in the agilon network helps us bounce ideas off each other and really improve our programs.

Question 3: agilon sponsors physician retreats where participants can exchange insights and ideas. Can you describe the benefits you’ve received from these educational events?

Answer: At the retreats, I like to talk to folks who’ve been doing it longer than we have. For instance, I’ve had the privilege of sitting down with Dr. Daley from Pinehurst and picking his brain for better understanding of how to effectively leverage the agilon model. During our discussions, I’ve often asked him, “What would you do differently?”

And I’ve talked with the Lexington Clinic, and I’ve told them, here are things that I would’ve done differently in the implementation period, so learn from us. By the same token, I’ve also shared success stories and best practices that did work.

This network is unique to agilon. It’s not something other health care organizations are doing. And it benefits both the providers and the patients.

The agilon Advantage

The agilon health physician network creates a special ecosystem where like-minded physicians come together to drive innovation, enhance patient care, and collectively strive for the betterment of senior care. This collaborative approach not only sets a valuable precedent but also exemplifies the power of shared expertise in making a positive impact on health care within communities.

Dr. Swaim’s journey as an agilon health partner is a testament to the transformative power of leveraging the physician network. Her story highlights how physicians, through collaboration and knowledge-sharing, can improve patient care, reduce health care costs, and ultimately make a difference in their communities.

Dr. Cindi Swaim Headshot

A primary care physician with The Jackson Clinic for 22 years and Chief Quality Officer since 2013, Dr. Cindi Swaim values the relationships she has cultivated with her patients and the positive impact she can make in their lives. Dr. Swaim earned her medical degree at East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine and is board-certified in family medicine. She and her husband, Roger, have two daughters, Mary Claire (starting medical school fall of 2024) and Kennedy (a sophomore at the University of Tennessee), and two dogs, Tucker and Milo. When not working, Dr. Swaim enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and hiking.

Learn more about agilon’s unique partnership model.

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