Tulsa Hospitals Expand, Specialize

Hillcrest HealthCare System and St. John Health System report expansion of local and regional services. Both say offering specialized medicine is important to staying ahead in the local marketplace.
Hillcrest HealthCare System, headquartered at 110 W. Seventh St., controls 30 percent of the marketshare in Tulsa, according to Division CFO Robert Langland. 200,000 patients obtain care in Hillcrest HealthCare System hospitals, the largest of which are Hillcrest Medical Center at 1120 S. Utica Ave. and Tulsa Regional Medical Center at 744 W. Ninth St.
“We want the ability to take care of people with better access and better utilization of resources,” Langland said.
St. John Health System is headquartered in the Davis Tower at 1923 S. Utica Ave. in Tulsa. The main campus is on the northeast corner of 21st Street and Utica Avenue.
Lex Anderson, executive vice president and CFO, projected 8 percent larger revenues for this year than 2005. According to its Continuing Disclosure Statement for 2005, St. John controls 27 percent of the Tulsa marketshare for adult care.
“We’re always seeking to deliver state-of-the-art care, meaning the highest quality in terms of outcomes and safety for the patient,” Anderson said.
St. Francis Hospital controls about a third of the marketshare in Tulsa, according to sources. However, St. Francis officials did not return repeated telephone calls seeking comment.
Specialization Means Expansion
Hillcrest and St. John are expanding in order to meet the needs of growing suburbs and the demands of a specializing health care market.
Growing St. John satellite hospitals include St. John Sapulpa at 1004 E. Bryan Ave. and Jane Phillips Medical Center at 3500 S.E. Frank Phillips Blvd. in Bartlesville, Anderson said. The new St. John Owasso northwest of 129th E. Ave. and 96th St. North will be open to patients in late October.
Anderson and Langland agree opportunity for Tulsa’s largest hospitals lies in developing specialized services on main campuses and developing medical centers as satellites of the general hospital.
“Specialty hospitals take the best paying and most profitable business away from general hospitals,” Langland said.
Hillcrest is targeting south Tulsa as well as Owasso, Langland said. Bailey Medical Center at 10502 N. 110th East Ave. in Owasso, the newest satellite hospital in the Hillcrest HealthCare System, is scheduled to open in late October.
A main business goal for both St. John Health System and Hillcrest HeathCare System is to “continue to attract specialist physicians who can do things that our physicians don’t do now here in Tulsa,” Anderson of St. John said.
Costs of Specialization
Though both hospital systems are expanding and offering more specialized services, both Anderson and Langland report significant and increasing labor, technology and uncompensated care costs related to those expansions. Even with more local outlets, access to health care is an issue.
“Labor accounts for about 50 percent of our total expenses,” Anderson said. “Uncompensated care is equal to about 10 percent of our total revenue stream.”
St. John reported a total uncompensated care cost for 2005 of over $61 million. Tulsa Regional Medical Center, Langland said, has the highest uncompensated care burden at twice the state average.
Uncompensated care is a significant cost of doing business in health care, but the newest medical technologies in specialized fields are high in demand and are very expensive, Langland of Hillcrest said.
“We’re seeing a double-digit percentage increase in our costs and supplies,” Langland said. “Most of the new imaging and diagnostic equipment, you’re talking millions of dollars in investments every time you want new devices or machines in a hospital.”
“And technology changes so quickly,” Langland added.
Both Anderson and Langland said access to health care is a growing problem in Tulsa.
“You have to be pretty sick to get into the hospital anymore,” Anderson of St. John said. “We see more patients who are sicker when they come to the hospital. We’ve had to expand our intensive care capabilities.”
Anderson said St. John has had to utilize new ICU monitoring technology in order to better use personnel resources and to improve patient safety.
“We’re the state’s only Level II trauma center,” Anderson said. “In some cases, people have to leave Tulsa to receive care. We hope to be able to provide those services right here.”
Langland of Hillcrest perceives the same health care access problems.
“We have the shortest turnaround times in the market from an emergency room standpoint,” Langland said. “What we’re telling the market is that if you need care, we have access to care.”
Langland of Hillcrest said education is important in facilitating technological changes and health care access improvement.
“There is a significant need for the community to encourage growth in the health care labor market,” Langland said. “We need good, qualified nursing. There is a fierce demand for nursing and a very low supply of it in the marketplace,” Langland said. ?

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