Collaboration represents a shared commitment to enhance technology,expand local services and improve access to health care.
The Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) Board of Trustees and the UNC Health Board of Directors announced today the approval of a comprehensive, long-term Management Services Agreement (MSA) between the two organizations to expand local health care services and improve access to resources for patients in the High Country region of North Carolina.
“In February, the ARHS Board of Trustees announced its desire to explore a potential relationship to strengthen the health system’s ability to bring new resources to the community,” said ARHS Board Chair Thomas Dale. “Our thorough process led us to UNC Health, one of the most recognized and trusted health systems in the country. Through our MSA, we will be able to deepen our primary care base, improve accessibility and enhance the level of services we provide today.”
UNC Health shares ARHS’s vision for the affiliation to provide robust specialty care and lead transformational change in primary care to improve lives in the High Country region of North Carolina.
“UNC Health is delighted to have Appalachian Regional Healthcare System join the UNC Health family,” said UNC Health Chief Operating Officer Steve Burriss. “We believe this relationship will bring great benefits to the people of this region, providing enhanced access to state-of-the-art care while preserving the provider-patient relationships residents have come to expect and enjoy. This affiliation will help UNC Health meet its mission of improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians.”
Through the agreement, ARHS will be able to invest in services, technology, equipment and facilities. One of the greatest benefits for patients will be access to a robust Electronic Health Record (EHR) system with the Epic MyChart patient portal. By the end of next year, patients will be able to use MyChart to take a more active role in their care. With MyChart, patients can view their test results schedule appointments, view paperless statements and pay bills online, update medications and allergies, connect to home devices, refill prescriptions, message securely with providers, manage the care of family members such as children and elderly parents, receive tools to help manage chronic conditions and more.
“The Epic electronic health record system will truly transform how we care for and communicate with our patients,” said Dale. “It is one of the cornerstones of our agreement with UNC Health.”
In addition to the technology improvements, through the affiliation with UNC Health, ARHS will be able to:
- Expand specialty and subspecialty services such as advanced cancer care and heart and vascular services.
- Access the resources of a large health system for purchasing and contracting.
- Benefit from industry best practices to enhance patient care and quality, and drive consistent, successful outcomes.
- Obtain resources to support talent and recruitment efforts and provide additional opportunities for professional growth and advancement for employees and providers.
“Our Board understands the importance of having a relationship with a top-tier organization that shares our commitment to rural health care,” explained ARHS CEO Chuck Mantooth. “Our relationship with UNC Health will allow us to continue our goal to strengthen health care in the High Country. I’m excited about our future and the possibility of bringing more resources to our patients.”
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR PATIENTS AND THE COMMUNITY
Patients will continue to see the same doctor and the familiar, caring team members and access the services and clinics they always have. Since this is not an acquisition, ARHS will retain its not-for-profit status, local governance structure, local leadership and will continue to operate its Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation which supports the programs and services of ARHS.
Over time, patients will benefit from new resources such as 24/7 access to a patient portal which will offer an improved billing process, online scheduling and new specialty services close to home.
About Appalachian Regional Healthcare SystemAppalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) is the leading healthcare system in the High Country of North Carolina. Committed to building a healthier community and simply Making Life Better, ARHS offers access to three hospitals, thirteen medical offices and twenty-two outpatient services. ARHS strives to continuously provide all members of the community with access to the best possible medical treatment, illness prevention, research, and wellness education. Visit apprhs.org for more information.
About UNC HealthUNC Health is a state entity and an affiliated enterprise of the University of North Carolina system, comprised of 14 hospitals, 18 hospital campuses and more than 500 clinics along with the clinical patient care programs of the UNC School of Medicine (SOM). It exists to improve the health and well-being of North Carolinians and others we serve and to further the teaching mission of the University of North Carolina SOM. Over the past three years, UNC Health has provided more than $400 million in uncompensated or charity care to the citizens of North Carolina. Our hospitals have received numerous awards and recognition for quality care, patient safety and the overall patient experience. For more information, please visit unchealth.org.