Officials with Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital and Cardiovascular Associates of East Texas announced Tuesday that they’ve joined forces to coordinate care for heart patients in East Texas.
The collaboration, which brings together more than 20 cardiologists, promises to broaden access to care for cardiology patients and help improve efficiency.
The agreement between the two entities maintains that they remain independent of each another but combine services to patients not only in Tyler, but also to satellite clinics in rural locations, such as Gun Barrel City and Pittsburgh.
They said sharing services and technologies allows physicians to give more time to more patients.
“There won’t be too much change for the patient,” said Dr. Noah Israel, a founding partner at CAET. “It’s more so that the patients who have had difficulty seeing a physician, get access to medical care.”
Hospital officials said CAET patients will benefit from a streamlined process for admitting and services from the hospital as they share electronic health records and imaging services.
Mother Frances Hospital patients also will now have access to the Vein Center and Weight Loss Center at CAET.
Those who’ve worked in cardiology since the inception of a heart care program here — Israel and Dr. C. Fagg Sanford, chief of cardiology at Louis and Peaches Hospital — have been instrumental in the affiliation.
“We’re very proud to be bringing back together the two real pioneers of cardiovascular care in East Texas,” said Lindsey Bradley, president and chief executive officer at Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics.
“Dr. Sanford and Dr. Israel really are the godfathers of cardiology in East Texas, and the affiliation between them and our organizations is a truly historical step into the future for heart patients.”
CARDIOLOGY,’ HEALTH CARE
Administrators noted that the heart hospital has garnered several awards for health outcomes, including being included in the Truven Top 50 Cardiovascular Hospitals in the country. Mother Frances Hospital has been named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals five times, also by Truven Health Analytics, an independent rating agency. They said that within the last 30 years, the level of care has changed dramatically, but for the better.
“Regulations were different,” said Israel, who came to Tyler in 1982. “Needs were different. Cardiology was different. When we started practice, there was no such thing as stints or balloons. It’s been a whole change.”
He added, “There was no treatment available in a patient with a heart attack. You just put them in bed and hope for the best. We’re able to offer them so much more now. The evolution of cardiology has come to the point where this strong affiliation is very important to the needs of patients, to be able to support a facility like this, to be able to continue offering new-age technology and also it gives us the ability to continue research.”
Collaborations weren’t commonplace until recently.
“It’s becoming more common, but it’s relatively a new phenomenon in the health care marketplace,” Sanford said. “When Noah and I entered the practice 30 years ago, hospitals and doctors were completely separate. Hospitals provided a place for doctors to do their work, hospitalize the patients, do some testing that couldn’t be done in the outpatient environment but there was relatively little communication. They kind of worked in parallels. Now, it’s clearly much more important for doctors, other health care providers and hospitals to work together.”
This physician-oriented and collaborative model also makes it possible, Sanford said, to improve and measure quality of care.
They said in physician-oriented hospitals, a team can be more cognizant of cutting unnecessary testing and procedures, noting that the challenge has been to stem the rising cost of health care.
“Care can be expensive,” Israel said. “It could be less costly. Less costly care does not necessarily mean lack of care. You can actually give better care with less cost if you do it right.”
Changes in the new health care law, which focus on reducing readmission rates and cutting waste, is also making hospitals think differently about old models that may not work today.
“They know that we cannot afford to continue the same trajectory in health care spending in this country,” Sanford said. “We’ve got to get more bang for out buck. By the same token, we ought to be sure to get better outcomes and not just rationing care and denying people the care they need.”