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OSF Healthcare joins Mayo Clinic network

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OSF Healthcare System, already one of the nation's largest and strongest health care networks, got even stronger Friday when it became part of the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

Becoming only the 16th member of the network will enable physicians in the OSF system, including OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, to work with the expert physicians at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic to bring patients the best possible care and treatment for whatever ails them, officials said during a news conference at St. Francis on Friday.

"Through this innovative program, our patients can have the comfort of knowing they are getting the best care," said Kevin Schoeplein, CEO of Peoria-based OSF HealthCare. "We are transforming health care to improve the lives of those we serve."

As part of the Mayo Clinic Network, OSF physicians, when treating complex cases, will be able to access Mayo's clinical resources and collaborate with Mayo specialists in determining treatment. That treatment then can be delivered to the patients as close to home as possible.

OSF Healthcare went through a rigorous review process to get accepted into the Mayo Clinic Care Network, OSF officials said.

Dr. David Hayes, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Network, said OSF had been on Mayo's radar from the time the Clinic Network, which started only 18 months ago, completed in strategic metric that laid out the type of systems it wanted to be part of the Mayo network.

"We are excited to be here, talking about how we can be working together. We all are acutely aware on how important that is and with OSF we have the mutal goal to promote physician collaboration to improve the delivery of health care," Hayes said.

He said Mayo's mantra is that the patient comes first. "That has always been the center of the organization and forever will be," he said. Noting OSF's 14,000 employees that serve nearly 4 million people in the communities it serves in Illinois and Michigan, Hayes said Mayo found in OSF a "patient-centger culture that thrives on improving outcomes and increasing value."

Dr. Kathleen Forbes, chief clinical officer for OSF Healthcare System, said not only will OSF patients benefit from the expertise of two top health care systems but they won't have to pay more for the privilege. The eConsults between OSF and Mayo physicians will be done at no additional cost to the patient but will add value to the treatment provided, she said.

The eConsults tool will be available to specialties on the active staffs at any OSF facilities and it will be phased in. In the first phase will be available to specialists in the fields of oncology, neurology and neurosurgery, GI (including medical and colorectal surgery) and cardiovascular. The second phase will be announced later.

"By working together over time, OSF and Mayo Clinic hope to build new and innovative ways to provide the best possible care to patients and their families," Forbes said.

Another tool available through the Mayo network is AskMayoExpert, an online tool created and used by the Mayo Clinic. It makes available Mayo-vetted knowledge in disease management, clinical care guidelines and other information. It became available immediately to OSF.

Keith Steffen, CEO of Saint Francis Medical Center the last 17 years and an OSF employee for 33 years, said the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis have long been willing to pursue innovative and even risky strategies in order to improve health care. He recalled asking the Sisters "to buy this thing they called a CAT Scan in 1980. It would be the first in the state of Illinois and one of only a few in use in the United States. They said yes and from there the list gets quite long. They have never backed off with risking project that fit with the level of health care they wanted to provide."

"What an incredible partnership this is going to be," Steffen said. "I stand here today very proud."

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).