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HCA, First Choice ER Form Alliance in Texas

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 10, 2013

Hospital Corporation of America announced this week that it has formed an alliance with a Dallas-based freestanding emergency room system.

HCA North Texas Division's "Hospital and Emergency Care Alliance" with First Choice Emergency Room was touted in a joint media release by the two for-profit companies as a way "to improve patient continuity of care through multiple access points for emergency services within the Dallas/Ft. Worth area… from First Choice ER to HCA's area facilities, as well as create a joint quality assurance process and team." 

The two companies have formed a "Joint Quality Assurance" team to support coordinated transfers of patients between facilities.

The agreement aims to ensure bed availability for First Choice ER patients needing acute care services provided by nearby HCA hospitals. First Choice ER transferring patients will avoid HCA hospitals' emergency departments and will instead be directly admitted when non-emergent criteria are met. 

Thomas S. Hall, president/CEO of First Choice, said in prepared remarks that "this exclusive collaboration gives our patients direct access to HCA's 5,000 physicians and 11 local hospitals" in the North Texas region.

Adam Powell, a healthcare economist and President of Boston-based Payer+Provider Syndicate Today, said in an interview that the alliance makes sense for both companies.

"Freestanding emergency rooms appeal to consumers because they offer potentially shorter wait times and greater convenience than traditional hospital emergency rooms. However, they lack the extensive capabilities of hospitals and need to transfer a portion of their patients," Powell says.

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