By Russell Hixson
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Stillwater Medical Center announced the medical staff from the Warren Clinic in Stillwater will become part of Stillwater Medical Center’s team of employed physician clinics.
According to hospital officials, 20 physicians and medical staff from the clinic have sent letters of intent to sign contracts with the Stillwater hospital.
Despite change, both organizations expect referral patterns to remain the same when patients require a higher intensity of care.
“The physicians from the Warren Clinic have been members of our medical staff and have treated patients in our hospital for years,” said hospital CEO Jerry Moeller. “So for the patient, there will be little to no change.”
Moeller said patients will still receive the same level of high quality care from their physician, but from an operational standpoint, there will be opportunities for increased efficiency.
“Changes in the healthcare system over the years have led many physicians to seek employment from the hospitals where they practice,” said Moeller. “This can reduce overhead expenses, integrate electronic medical records and provide a more cohesive medical team consisting of both primary care and specialists.”
According to Moeller, Saint Francis Health System, Warren Clinic physicians and the hospital agree this provides a great opportunity for better integration and are all working toward a smooth transition for everyone involved.
Stillwater Medical Center Vice President of Administrative Services Denise Webber said the hospital was approached by the clinic’s staff. Webber explained in modern medicine primary care physicians are encouraged to oversee and manage all aspects of their patients care. Being employed by the major hospital in the area makes this easier, Webber said.
“Without access to all the information, that’s really challenging to do,” Webber said.
Records sharing is one major incentive. While the clinic and the hospital both keep electronic records, the systems have difficulty communicating. After the switch is fully implemented, which Webber estimates could take less than 120 days, the systems will be compatible. It will also help prevent redundant tests or scans that have already been completed at a Stillwater Medical Center facility.
Webber explained clinic physicians being employed by local hospitals is becoming the trend in the health care industry because of its convenience.
Webber said the hospital is still discussing possibly purchasing or leasing the current Warren Clinic building and its equipment but nothing has been decided. She said the hospital, St. Francis and the clinic will work together to make sure patient care is not interrupted during the transition.