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VOL. 133 | NO. 21 | Monday, January 29, 2018

Regional One Health Looking to Grow, CEO Says

By Andy Meek

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Dr. Jeffrey Warren remembers idolizing his family doctor while growing up in Salisbury, North Carolina, a respect for the profession that stayed with him and in part motivated his launch of Primary Care Specialists in 1992.

His practice – which has just joined the Regional One Health family – provides family and internal medicine care, as well as well-woman and pediatric care, minor medical procedures, and urgent care, he says in a blog. And “our location in the heart of the city has provided the opportunity to reach many Memphians across a wide spectrum of health needs.”

Dr. Reginald Coopwood

Regional One president and CEO Dr. Reginald Coopwood points to the addition of Warren’s practice – with its two physicians and six nurse practitioners – as indicative of the organization’s ongoing turnaround. There was something of a buying spree of physician practices by hospitals here several years ago, Coopwood says, during a time when Regional One was still working to right its own ship, a time when providers like Warren also might not have seen the organization as a viable possibility for something like this.

Primary Care Specialists is the fifth primary care practice at Regional One Health, adding a central location to the current sites in Downtown, North Memphis, South Memphis and East Memphis. The office is located in Chickasaw Oaks Plaza, 3109 Walnut Grove Road, and the staff is now part of UT Regional One Physicians.

Its addition points to what Regional One will be focused on in 2018, Coopwood says: growth, for one thing.

“For us to be sustainable, we have to continue to grow the enterprise,” he said about the nearly 3,000-employee organization. “And you do that by how we add services on top of the enterprise, how we make the enterprise more efficient and how we attract patients who otherwise wouldn’t have chosen Regional One Health.

“Five or seven years ago, there was a buying spree of physician practices, and for many reasons we had a lot we were doing in creating Regional One Health. And we were not interested in getting into a bidding war for these practices in our community, so we strategically opted out of that timeframe and wanted to spend the time to find practitioners who practice consistent with what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The organization engaged Warren’s practice about 12 months ago with casual conversations that eventually turned into acquisition talks.

Coopwood’s ongoing shift of moving Regional One from being seen as a health care option of last resort to one of first choice means there will be more deals like this on the way. Because providers like Warren, he said, now see Regional One as a place where they’d like to be.

He remains focused on a big-picture assessment of Regional One’s potential. In 2017, the organization teamed up with the New Jersey-based Camden Coalition for a data-driven study to cut costs. Efficiency and leanness also help benefit the other side of the ledger – the ability to grow and do more.

“People have seen what we’ve been able to do on our journey, and honestly we’re seeing a considerable amount of growth on that choice side as we continue to take care of those who come to us through our emergency rooms,” Coopwood said. “But it’s about building out the system and the delivery of care and how we manage patient experiences, all of those things. We’re on a continuous journey toward doing it 100 percent of the time, the best patient experience they can have.

“Now that we’re further along on our journey of becoming a health system of choice in this community as well as taking care of those people who don’t have a choice or who see us through the emergency situations, now we can start approaching practices or collaborative opportunities and help the system to grow. And now people will be willing to consider us as a choice.”

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