As we anticipate 2013, we look forward to continuing our important work to improve the system of care for Sarasota County's uninsured and underinsured.
Our collaboration with the Sarasota County Health Department and Senior Friendship Centers – with support from The Patterson Foundation – took a significant stride forward in 2012 to strengthen and streamline the services we provide to community members. The planned installation of a new health information technology platform at the Senior Friendship Centers will allow our organizations to share critical health information and better coordinate care. Our work to develop standardized eligibility requirements will help reduce patient wait times and ensure that individuals have access to necessary services.
These accomplishments demonstrate the partners' strong commitment to the collaborative effort. I believe our relationship will become even more fruitful in 2013. In fact, Sarasota Memorial's strategic alliance with BayCare Health System will strengthen our ability to support the system of care.
Our alliance with the Tampa Bay area's leading community-based health system will help secure Sarasota Memorial's future in the face of unprecedented changes transforming the health care industry. Health reform and budget reductions are prompting hospitals across the nation to collaborate to remain viable for the long term. Sarasota Memorial faces the same uncertain future that challenges all U.S. hospitals – if not more so. While we’re currently in a stable position, independent health systems like ours will have an increasingly difficult time coping with cuts and changes than larger health systems. That’s why it makes sense for us to join forces with BayCare, which is a sizeable, healthy organization. Most importantly, it’s a nonprofit system that shares a similar community mission and culture as SMHCS.
In contrast to national trends, Sarasota Memorial is not selling, leasing or merging with another system, but simply forming a partnership with BayCare. The alliance will give us access to the extra resources, size and scale of a larger health system, yet allow us to remain an independent public hospital with our own unique identity, local governance and community focus. We will work together to foster the efficient use of resources, enhance clinical outcomes and broaden access to care, all to ensure that we can continue caring for our community well into the future. These goals should sound very familiar, as they mirror the objectives of the system of care project.
The system of care collaboration is only as strong as its key partners. Sarasota Memorial's alliance with BayCare will help ensure that we remain a vigorous and stable partner, able to make valuable contributions that will help all of us take the best possible care of our most vulnerable community members.
Gwen MacKenzie is the President and CEO of Sarasota Memorial Health Care System.
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