What does a new health system partnership mean for pediatric patients of OU Children's Hospital and OU Children's Physicians?
A new integrated services agreement between the University Hospitals Authority and Trust (UHAT), the University of Oklahoma and SSM Health’s St. Anthony Hospitals and Physicians Group was announced a week ago Friday. Pending regulatory approvals, the new partnership will become effective in the first half of next year when the Hospital Corporation of America, the current operator of OU Medical System hospitals and facilities, will conclude its relationship with UHAT and OU.
Paul Sund, Director of Communications for OU Physicians, answered the following questions about what pediatric patients can expect from the new agreement.
1. What changes will patients of OU Children's Hospital and OU Children's Physicians notice both in the short- and long-term?
Going forward, we will continue to provide the same expert pediatric care at both The Children’s Hospital and the OU Children’s Physicians clinics. Patient families will still be supported by a broad-range of pediatric specialists and support staff who are trained to address the unique needs of children. There will be no immediate procedural or visual changes in our facilities, other than possible branding enhancements related to our new affiliation with SSM Health-St. Anthony Hospitals. This may be noticed first in the Jimmy Everest Center which will quickly affiliate with St. Anthony in order to take advantage of the non-profit hospital’s drug pricing schedule. In the longer term, our patient families will benefit from the integration of OU-SSM Health services and resources.
2. Will the agreement result in changes in physician relationships with patients?
No, the new collaboration will not affect the relationships between our families and individual OU Children’s Physicians doctors and staff. Patients will still see the same physicians in our clinics as they do today. The OU Physicians practice will continue to operate as an independent state entity under the University of Oklahoma, but will work to better integrate clinical services with the St. Anthony Physician Group.
3. What are some specific ways the change will benefit pediatric healthcare delivery?
Our current hospital partner is a for-profit corporation and we believe the non-profit SSM Health will better reflect our priorities and overall mission. The integration of clinical services will also provide benefits to pediatric physicians in both the OU and SSM Health practices. The physician groups, clinics and the hospitals will ultimately use the same Electronic Medical Record, facilitating more efficient and effective communication, treatment and research by providers and their respective facilities.
4. What are some specific ways the changes will enhance pediatric medical research?
Unlike the agreement with our current hospital partner, OU and the University Hospital Authority and Trust will share governance equally with SSM Health. We anticipate this will allow us to devote additional resources to our key mission functions, including pediatric and adult research. We believe SSM Health is strongly committed to our overall mission and shares our values, and will help allocate resources accordingly. Its non-profit status will also help fundraising efforts on behalf of pediatric research.
5. Will the announced changes have any effect on the pediatric oncology research announcement made in late August?
No, previous research commitments will not be affected by the SSM Health agreement.
6. Do you have any other thoughts that may be of interest to pediatric patients and their families?
We greatly value all of our patient families and truly believe this new collaboration will enhance their care in the years to come. Although they may not see major visual changes in facilities or processes, we are confident that the new network will produce both tangible and intangible benefits for patient families.