Under the strategic plan, UK HealthCare, the clinical arm of the University of Kentucky, will continue to focus on the academic medical center's development as a subspecialty care provider in Kentucky and surrounding states. The five-hospital Norton Healthcare —Kentucky's largest comprehensive healthcare system and an existing teaching site for UK's pharmacy and nursing programs—will develop a statewide system to improve medical care access and quality.
The affiliation will target four areas:
- Clinical Services: Strengthening programs for advanced patient care in cancer, neuroscience, cardiology, and organ transplants.
- Teaching programs: Expanding teaching programs, which will increase the number of medical professionals, addressing the severe shortage facing the state, particularly in OB/GYN, neuroscience, primary care, and family practice.
- Children's health issues: Expanding services from primary care pediatrics to subspecialty care to ensure that Kentucky's children don't have to leave the state to access care. Also, along with Norton Healthcare's Kosair Children's Hospital and Kentucky Children's Hospital, the alliance will address major children's health issues such as obesity and juvenile diabetes.
- Federal healthcare reform: UK will tap into Norton's experience with accountable care, as federal healthcare reform initiatives are launched. Norton was recently selected by the Brookings/Dartmouth University initiative as one of the nation's first four pilot sites (and the only one in Kentucky) to develop an Accountable Care Organization.
"UK and Norton Healthcare's decision comes as the nation's healthcare system is preparing for reform. Healthcare providers across the country have recognized that they must embrace collaborations that provide high quality care while emphasizing efficiency and limiting unnecessary, costly duplication of services," Williams says. "Regional cooperation and pooling of resources will be essential features of what is sure to be a national trend in the years to come and Norton Healthcare's and UK's decision puts Kentucky on the leading edge of that new reality."