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UCI Health CEO shares vision for integration of 4 Tenet hospitals

UCI Health's acquisition of four Tenet hospitals brings about a unique opportunity as it blends academic medical centers with community healthcare, Chad Lefteris, president and CEO of UCI Health, told Becker's.  

On March 27, Orange, Calif.-based UCI Health completed its acquisition of Tenet Healthcare's Pacific Coast Network, which includes four hospitals in Southern California and their associated outpatient locations. 

This acquisition, according to Mr. Lefteris, creates new pathways as it brings together UCI Health, a traditional academic health system, with traditional community hospital systems.

"When we bring those two together, you can come up with something really special," he told Becker's. "This is why this is going to be really fun work, because it gives us the opportunity to go test some new innovative things in a completely different setting than what we've previously had."

Additionally, Mr. Lefteris said the acquisition is going to help UCI Health improve access to care and expand unrestricted access to care across the region. 

"This is going to make it easier for patients to get seen and to have the highest level of quality and best outcomes," he said. "This acquisition allows us to do this literally overnight, as the access points have multiplied. That is a huge opportunity. Additionally, it increases our ability to accept more community hospital transfers of patients who need higher levels of care."

    But acquisitions don't come without challenges. UCI Health is adding almost 50% more co-workers with the four new hospitals and has inherited their leadership teams, who have spent the past several years working at a different health system with a different culture. 

    "We have built a vibrant culture within our organization that supports our goal of being the friendliest and most accessible academic health system," Mr. Lefteris said. "Now, we have the opportunity to learn from our new co-workers and build on our collective strengths to define a path forward together."

      Another big area UCI Health is looking to tackle with the new hospitals is changing their EMR system. The four previously Tenet-owned hospitals — Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, Lakewood Regional Medical Center, Los Alamitos Medical Center and Placentia-Linda Hospital — operate on a Cerner EHR system. 

      "They are on a different EMR than UCI Health is, so we already have plans in place to update them to our Epic system," Mr. Lefteris said. "This isn't happening right away. I would say in the next year to 18 months is probably a fair range because it's a major change and we want to do it well, and not just hand them an entirely new system that they may not be familiar with."

      When it comes to what excites Mr. Lefteris the most about this acquisition, he said the response from the community, co-workers and physicians.

      "This could very easily have been perceived as something that was being done to them because that's how some of these decisions get made, but this has been the opposite," he said. "This has been welcomed with open arms and excitement, and to see that is really powerful. So I think that is one of the most exciting things for this moment. Beyond that, it's about how we learn from each other. We are a learning organization backed by academic research, so we get the opportunity to learn from each other and hopefully accelerate even faster."

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