Destination centers of care offer a way to expand specialty services while keeping costs in check.

As medical providers navigate their way through full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center—and OSF HealthCare as a whole—is expanding what might have once been considered an unusual business practice to better meet the needs of patients.

For all the ways providing healthcare has changed—and will continue to change—over the years, one constant has remained: The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis recognized that to provide and expand high-quality subspecialty services, you need a well-defined regional strategy, which includes the development of destination centers of care. This is something that began taking shape in the early 1990s and continues today.

OSF Saint Francis and Children’s Hospital of Illinois have developed a presence in 34 Illinois counties and growing—a population of more than 2.2 million people. This has expanded the specialty services offered to patients while helping to keep healthcare costs in check.

It is far more cost-effective for OSF Saint Francis to offer centralized centers of care than for individual hospitals within OSF HealthCare or our regional affiliates to offer specialized care for what may be only a small number of cases each year. In many cases, to do so is simply not economically feasible.

The other benefit of having destination centers of care is the ability to keep patients and their families closer to home in a mid-sized metro area, rather than having to deal with the complexities they might find in larger cities like Chicago, St. Louis or Indianapolis.

With 120 subspecialty providers, Children’s Hospital is perhaps the best example of a destination center of care, having worked hard to establish itself as such for nearly the entire northern half of Illinois (outside of Chicago). It is the only downstate hospital that offers both pediatric cardiac surgery and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), in addition to a 60-bed Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)—the highest level possible—and the multidisciplinary Congenital Heart Center. But growth in other areas continues.

OSF Saint Francis recently opened Illinois’ first hybrid operating suite, one of only five in the country featuring the Discovery IGS 730, a powerful imaging system that helps doctors use minimally invasive techniques to correct heart and vascular problems. The new room provides a single suite in which doctors can perform both traditional open surgeries and minimally-invasive procedures. Not only does it offer patients advanced treatment options and surgeons increased flexibility, it has a camera with remote video viewing and audio that integrates with the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center for teaching purposes and, potentially, worldwide conferences.

The Illinois Neurological Institute is a destination center for all neurological care and offers a variety of multidisciplinary clinics. The Brain Tumor Clinic, working in conjunction with the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, brings together a variety of specialists who work as a team to evaluate patients and provide them with state-of-the-art, comprehensive, individualized care. But this center of care takes it a step further as the physicians who treat patients with brain tumors are the same scientists who are researching new and better ways to fight these tumors and improve every patient’s quality of life.

The Maternal-Fetal Diagnostic Center provides comprehensive consultation and management services for all aspects of high-risk pregnancies, with patients benefiting from its strong ties to Children’s Hospital specialty services and OSF Saint Francis’ antepartum unit and family birthing center. Additionally, the maternal-fetal team coordinates with the North Central Perinatal Network, which is composed of 28 hospitals and 25 county health departments in central Illinois.

The development of destination centers of care at OSF Saint Francis is vital to providing the best care for those we serve, while also being cost-effective as the unknowns of healthcare reform are navigated. iBi