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FL Health Systems Announce Partnership

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, October 15, 2010

Orlando Health, the University of Florida, and Shands HealthCare have formed a free-flowing collaborative to expand physician training, develop interoperable electronic medical records systems, and improve quality and access to healthcare for 2.5 million people across a 20-county region in Central Florida.

At a ceremony on Thursday, officials at the three institutions signed a memorandum of understanding that provides a foundation for several cooperative initiatives, which they called a natural result of years of close working relationships.

"The formal affiliation of Orlando Health with the University of Florida and Shands will build on our longstanding and valuable relationship and enhance our collective energies as regional and statewide clinical leaders," says David S. Guzick, MD, senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of the UF & Shands Health System.

"As the healthcare needs of patients throughout Central and North Central Florida continue to grow, we will seek out ways to collaborate on comprehensive clinical programs for adults and children and fortify our role as educational leaders in delivering the highest-quality education for future physicians and other health providers," he adds.

The agreement calls for the three institutions to form joint clinical programs in pediatrics, neuroscience, oncology, women's health, transplantation, and cardiovascular medicine, which will include a regional comprehensive cardiac care program. The collaborative will increase undergraduate and graduate medical residency and fellowship training at Orlando Health, facilitate clinical trials through UF's clinical research program, and collaborate on quality care and safety initiatives.

UF College of Medicine Dean Michael L. Good, MD, said the collaborative is "built upon existing partnerships" with physicians in three "tremendously strong healthcare organizations."

"Many of our doctors already work together," Good said. "This agreement allows us to collaborate on much broader scale between groups of physicians and divisions and departments, working with one another around the triad of best care, best educational opportunities, and providing the best environment for advancing new knowledge and discovery."

Orlando Health CEO John Hillenmeyer called the collaborative "a work in progress" with some of the details not finalized.

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