MU Health Care Plans to Increase Its Range of Services in Mid-Missouri

Mar 22, 2018

Plans for a more connected Missouri health care system and two new local clinics were topics of discussion at a Board of Curators meeting Wednesday.

MU Health Care CEO Jonathan Curtright and UM System President Mun Choi presented plans in front of the MU Health Affairs Committee on ways to increase connections between central Missouri medical centers, provide more at-home care for residents and build a more “streamlined” MU Health Care structure of governance, as Choi described it.'

“We must think more broadly than we historically have,” Curtright said.

 Statewide connected health care

Standing in front of a black-and-yellow-themed slide show, Curtright discussed MU Health Care’s position in the Integrated Academic Health System, which connects MU Health Care with other academic medical centers around central Missouri.

“Our goal is to create an integrated, academic health system,” he said.

The system, which Curtright said is being improved “each and every day,” allows MU Health Care to work closely with Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City. It also helps MU to connect with Bothwell Regional Health Center, Hannibal Regional Healthcare System and Lake Regional Health System.

The system incorporates electronic record-sharing technology from the Tiger Institute for Health Innovation so that doctors from different hospitals can see the same patient information.

“The days of faxing are over at (Capital) Region and beyond,” Curtright said.

Their goal is to provide trustworthy information to residents seeking medical attention, Curtright said after the meeting. If a Columbia resident needs health care but is in Jefferson City, for example, they would be able to get efficient help because of the collaborative system.

MU Health Care previously had discussed partnering with Boone Hospital Center, which is not part of the academic health system, but the talks have stopped for the time being.


Local health care

Two primary care clinics will open within the next two years in Columbia, Curtright said. One will be located near Battle High School and the other around Thornbrook, providing increased access to care on the north and southwest sides of town.

In addition, Curtright announced MU Health Care’s plan to improve its telehealth technology, which provides Missouri residents access to health care within their homes. With the technology, they can talk to a doctor by video for a flat fee.

“We want to be one of the leaders in telemedicine here,” Curtright said.

The service provides general and dermatology care to Columbia residents and people in rural communities. MU Health Care also uses it to provide physician training: For example, pain management specialists have instructed rural doctors about opioid addiction treatment, MU Health spokeswoman Jennifer Coffman said.

Curtright said the service is “not in its infancy, but it’s not an adolescent. It’s somewhere in between.”

Streamlined leadership 

Choi walked to the front of the room following Curtright’s presentation to present a proposal for the new MU Health Care management structure.

“Efficiencies will only take us to a certain level,” Choi said during his presentation. “We also want to be transformative.”

The new model simplifies the organizational structure. Choi said it would make internal activities more efficient and improve communication with other medical centers as MU Health Care’s reach grows.

When Choi asked for feedback, the committee members expressed their support.

Committee member John Phillips said the plan “would be good because it would bring expertise into the oversight” through the inclusion of an operating committee. He said this emphasis on expertise “hasn’t happened before.”

Curtright also approved of the proposed model.

“I think the structure would be fantastic because there are many times I’d need guidance, feedback from executives who have walked a mile in those shoes before,” Curtright said.

After the meeting, Choi said people won’t lose their jobs because of the new structure. Instead, he said it would “help lead to growth.”

Choi also asked the committee members for constructive criticism on the model to improve it; he said the final version will be ready in June.

Click here for charts included in the presentation.