Historic Signing Creates New Health System for Oklahoma
Published: Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Oklahoma health care takes a major step forward with the historic agreement signed June 29, between the University of Oklahoma and University Hospitals Authority and Trust to merge their clinics and hospitals into Oklahoma's first comprehensive academic health system: OU Health.
"Today marks an extraordinary moment decades in the making for Oklahoma in our quest to become a healthier state", said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. "The healthiest states have one thing in common: an academic health system that brings together patient care, research and the training of tomorrow's health care leaders. Before today, we had each of those pieces, and while they worked together, they operated separately with different management structures. Now, this merger unlocks unlimited potential as we bring together research-driven care and education that will make Oklahomans healthier, lead to economic prosperity and move our state forward."
The merger creates new, singular leadership, operational and financial functions. As a result, OU Health will offer a seamless patient experience, improve care outcomes, and provide more access to the latest treatments found nowhere else in the state.
"As an academic health system, we now have all key participants at the table making strategic decisions for a single enterprise", said G. Rainey Williams, Jr., Board Chair of University Hospitals Authority and Trust. "This merger aligns OU Health with the healthcare model that has proven successful in enhancing healthcare for the healthiest states in our nation and will propel our campus for the next 50 years."
The merger also brings the research and education missions of the enterprise into closer alignment with the care of patients. Enhanced collaborations between physicians and researchers will transform patient care as they search for new answers to complex medical problems. In addition, the new organization will reinvest clinical earnings into research and educational activities.
Executive Dean of the College of Medicine Dr. John Zubialde added: "This is an exciting new era in the history of the OU College of Medicine. Oklahomans will benefit from the latest in research-driven advancements and increased access to health care, and the next generation of OU-trained physicians will carry our tradition of excellence into the future."
While the official merger and signing is a long-awaited achievement for OU Health, growth and changes have already been underway, even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new eight-story North Tower of the OU Health University of Oklahoma Medical Center opened in fall 2020, bringing 144 additional beds, 32 new operating rooms and advanced technologies. There is also an ongoing modernization of IT infrastructure and the implementation of Epic, the new electronic health record that will facilitate conversation among healthcare providers across the enterprise.
"The official signing of the merger represents the culmination of a vision, but it is only the beginning of our growth and the innovations that will be developed to address the healthcare needs of Oklahomans", said Senior Vice President and Provost of the OU Health Sciences Center and Acting Board Chair of OU Medicine, Inc. Jason Sanders, M.D., MBA. "We already have assets found nowhere else in the state, such as the National Cancer Institute-Designated Stephenson Cancer Center, a Level 1 Trauma Center; and Oklahoma Children's Hospital, a comprehensive facility for children and mothers. The future is even brighter because of a merger that optimizes our ability to provide the highest quality of care to everyone who needs our services."