Considering the multifactorial aspect of the primary care sector crisis, Benjamin ingeniously brought together several profiles to rethink the system: general practitioners, engineers and organization specialists. He designed a patient-centered primary care system in which the cornerstone unit is a new type of primary healthcare center. In 2015, Benjamin opened a first primary healthcare pilot center with a dual purpose. First, proving that his model best serves the patient in terms of quality and accessibility while being attractive for the general practitioners and cost-efficient for the healthcare system. Second, this pilot has been designed to spread: it is used as a platform to experiment collaborative ways of working with other medical groups, and to incubate doctors that will replicate centers elsewhere.
Benjamin decided to settle in an urban area, to test his model on a wide range of publics; he strategically chose Paris for two reasons: first, Paris crucially needs more general practitioners; second, being located in the capital city allows Ipso Santé to connect with a rich ecosystem to collaborate with and test new solutions while benefiting from the best visibility.
There are four core pillars of this pilot healthcare center, which gathers 10 permanent general practitioners. First, a respectful and empathetic approach towards the patient is part of the core principles. It means replacing the traditional paternalistic approach with a more horizontal one in which doctors are trained to actively listen to the patient, not judge him, and clearly explain every medical act they practice; it also implies to let the patient be more active regarding his care by respecting his choices that should always prevail. Second, there is an unprecedented collaborative functioning that serves both to give the best recommendations to the patients, thanks to collective intelligence, and makes possible the general practitioners continuously grow as professionals: concrete tools to reach this collaborative dynamic are a peer-to-peer feedback system, a “buddy” system to learn by seeing and then doing, weekly collective meetings to discuss specific cases and satisfaction questionnaires filled by the patients after each consultation. Third, it leverages research and development of new technologies to allow practitioners to fully focus on the patient. An efficient and collaborative use of new technologies indeed drastically reduces the administrative burdens that usually represent a third of a “traditional” general practitioner’s working time. Ultimately, the healthcare center fosters innovation and medical research on primary care: it is open to welcome medical entrepreneurs working towards improving the healthcare system as well as researchers.
This first center is a successful proof of concept: it welcomed more than 800 patients within the first year and 99% of them would recommend Ipso Santé. The center is also attractive to doctors, with 200 applications received within a few months, which is remarkable within a context that used to see less and less doctors choosing to establish in Paris and across France. Moreover, the center’s quality and efficiency indicators are higher than the sector standards: first estimations show that Ipso Santé’s patients cost 44% less to the health insurance funds than the Paris Region average in terms of acts and medicine prescriptions. Economically, the center already reached a balanced budget on the exploitation part whereas 80% of medical centers located in the Paris region show a chronic deficit.
Benjamin plans to replicate his first pilot center to (1) reach the necessary critical size to become a key player of the primary care sector, thus gaining a great power of influence (2) experiment a new functioning in network (3) develop primary care scientific research with larger and more diverse cohorts of patients to formulate practical recommendations for general practitioners. To do so, he trains teams of doctors within his pilot center to get them experience and fully assimilate Ipso Santé’s fundamental pillars. A second center will open in 2017.
This indispensable and successful proof of concept helped Ipso Santé gain legitimacy within the healthcare ecosystem. Now, Benjamin leans on this first unit as a hub to go a step further in the reform of the primary care system. He fosters collaborations with other medical and non-medical networks or organizations to co-create complementary solutions to target the populations he can’t reach with the urban center format. To do so, Benjamin either cocreates solutions with other health stakeholders or incubates projects within the pilot center, which serves as an experimentation field. Ipso Santé started to incubate a telemedicine project connecting doctors and nurses to reach patients who are isolated or with reduced mobility; in this sense, Ipso Santé is also building partnerships with nurseries and accommodation establishments for dependent old persons. Moreover, Ipso Santé is working with an NGO on an experimentation to design a specific care pathway for migrants before they have access to the state medical aid. Moreover, Ipso Santé opens his best practices with other medical centers or entrepreneurs, thus inciting changes in existing centers or the creation of new ones. Two medical entrepreneurs as well as a local public authority inspired by Ipso Santé already envision to open their own centers in Paris and Lyon, and the regional health authorities use to send people visit Ipso Santé so that they get inspired before launching a medical center.
Benjamin also leans on Ipso Santé’s gained legitimacy and credibility to take on an advocacy role through influencing the ecosystem, infiltrating medical teaching and scientific research. He forges links with the public health authorities and top political decision makers, such as presidential candidates, to shift the medical investment towards primary care’s reform. This power of influence also goes beyond France, as the visit of the South Korea’s Minister of Health in Ipso Santé’s first center proves it. Benjamin also makes a great use of social media to diffuse Ipso Santé’s mindset. In addition, Benjamin turns the Ipso Santé’s practitioners into real ambassadors: through teaching in famous French medicine universities such as Université Paris Descartes, and mentoring medicine students, they contribute to spread the vision of a new type of primary care to future practitioners, while giving them the keys to implement it. Furthermore, Ipso Santé will also release in 2017 its first research publications in specialized media to reach and convince even more medical professionals that deeply reforming primary care is possible and key for tomorrow’s medicine.
To activate an ultimate lever to amplify his impact, Benjamin also introduces his approach in a wider cross-sector impact-driven collaboration: he participates in designing, with 11 other innovative health and non-health organizations (including Ashoka Fellows’ organizations like Mozaïk RH and Siel Bleu), new toolkits for citizens to easily access a multi-dimensional support (care, housing, employment, professional training, …). This initiative is already supported by the European Commission.