CEO Blog: Integration With SEAHEC Will Help Align Healthcare Delivery for Our Patients

October 02, 2014

By NHRMC President and CEO, Jack Barto

BARTO_JACK-001_web.jpgThis week, we started one of the most exciting new partnerships in our history at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, though in many ways it feels as though nothing has changed.

The reason? For the better part of 40 years, we have always considered ourselves partners with what is now known as South East Area Health Education Center, home of physician teaching programs that prepare vitally needed doctors for our state and region. The only thing that’s different beginning October 1 is that SEAHEC and NHRMC have integrated their services to create one efficient organization.

Why, then, would we formally integrate if we have always been partners?

The answer has to do with the changing health care world we live in. All health care agencies and providers need to find new ways to work together to streamline care and focus more on keeping the patient healthy, rather than how many patients they can treat. And agencies with similar missions and views especially need to work together on ways to keep patients healthy.

With SEAHEC now a part of NHRMC, we can  more closely collaborate on the patient care goals we  share. Though everyone wants to achieve a positive patient outcome, different agencies have different ways, different beliefs and different work patterns in achieving that care. When more than one provider is involved with a patient, as so often happens, care can become duplicated or fragmented – even among agencies that work as closely as NHRMC and SEAHEC.

With integration, we will have the same “standard work” – a consistent way of delivering each procedure, treatment and interaction – and will be working toward shared quality goals. In other words, we will share the same idea on the best way to keep a patient healthy.

Perhaps most important, we will share the same electronic medical record, a process we already had in place but will expand throughout SEAHEC’s organization. Having a shared medical record is rapidly becoming the “gold standard” in patient care, as providers can readily access all prior diagnoses, imaging exams, medications and referrals, as well as medical and social histories. This not only leads to more effective patient care, but eliminates waste through duplication. And in the environment we are moving toward, none of us cannot afford duplication of effort.

We are especially proud that the doctors who make up University Physicians, typically teaching professors associated with UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine, will join our own NHRMC Physician Group, again aligning about 190 doctors under the same set of standard work and goals.

We expect that our excellent level of patient care will only improve. The four primary teaching clinics in Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Surgery and Family Medicine, will continue to operate as they do today, training physicians of the future while learning from accredited teaching professors.

SEAHEC will also remain committed to supporting many region-wide missions, to include workforce development across the full spectrum of health careers, including pharmacy and nursing students; providing high-quality continuing education to health professionals; and supporting practicing physicians in their conversion to electronic medical record and achieving patient-centered medical home status.

The one obvious change with the clinics is that they will be moving soon, making it easier for patients to get to and from their doctor’s appointments. The Internal Medicine and Surgery clinics will move to 1725 New Hanover Medical Park Drive on Nov. 10, and the Obstetrics and Gynecology clinic will move Dec. 8 to 2150 Shipyard Boulevard. Coastal Family Medicine will remain at 2323 Delaney Avenue.

Patients will likely not notice that this partnership has begun, nor will most of you in the community. Our aim is that, not too far in the distant future, this alignment of long-time community partners will lead to a health care delivery system that better accomplishes the goals we all want, which are healthier patients at less costs to the community. And that’s why this partnership has taken place.

For a complete list of NHRMC Physician Group providers visit: nhrmcphysiciangroup.org.