To tackle this problem in our nation's capital, Unity Health Care, a federally qualified community health center that is the leading source for primary care in Washington's at-risk areas, and Providence, a 289-bed D.C. hospital and member of Ascension Health, the nation's largest Catholic not-for-profit health system, have teamed up to expand access to convenient, affordable, high-quality medical care for all residents of the district, with special concern for the poor and vulnerable. The partnership specifically aims to increase points of contact with specialists, integrate electronic medical records for improved care coordination, build models focused on preventive care and reduce costs for both payers and providers by lessening duplicative testing.
As we lead the path toward clinical integration, the new alliance could come to serve as a model for other safety net hospitals and federally qualified health centers across the country.
Access is the most important pillar of the program. As a result of the partnership, physician specialists from Providence will now be available at Unity's primary-care health centers throughout the district. Existing primary-care services such as internal medicine, pediatrics and family medicine will remain in place, and residents will also be able to schedule visits with cardiologists, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, general surgeons, oncologists and experts in at least 10 other subspecialties. The program ensures that all city residents, especially the most vulnerable, have access to primary and specialty care in their medical home.
In a continuously evolving healthcare environment, strategic partnerships have the potential to greatly improve the quality, coordination and cost-effectiveness of patient services. Another component of our partnership that other organizations can replicate is our embrace of clinical integration. Building upon the goals of the Affordable Care Act, we're striving to reduce costly, duplicative medical testing through the sharing of electronic health records—which has been estimated to save more than $81 billion annually nationwide. Embracing health IT can allow medical providers from partnering organizations to access one integrated medical record for each patient, thus lowering the financial burden and improving patient care.