Emory Healthcare and Stratus Healthcare, a nonprofit medical provider based in the southeastern United States, announced Aug. 29 an alliance to combine both institutions’ medical resources to better aid Georgia citizens by providing treatment that is more efficient, low-cost and reliable.

Both parties will work in what CEO of Emory Healthcare and Executive Vice President of Emory Health Affairs Jonathan Lewin described as a “strategic affiliation” to determine improved methods of medicine while simultaneously working with physicians across the state to exchange medical proficiencies.

Founded in 2013, Stratus Healthcare has 1,500 physicians shared between 21 hospitals and administers medical care to patients across the Southeast. Lewin said that this partnership will allow Emory to reach out to a greater number of patients, and, in return, Emory will provide higher-level medical treatment.

According to an Emory Healthcare press release, the primary areas this alliance will focus on include the creation of “integrated care systems” and connection with Emory clinics and services, as well as coordination with electronic medical records.

The affiliation will have no financial implications, such as laying-off workers or pay cuts to Emory Healthcare or University employees, said Ninfa Saunders, co-founder of Stratus and President and CEO of Navicent Health, a hospital under Stratus.

Lewin said that faculty, students and residents will benefit from the alliance, because it draws  from a larger population, thus bringing in more patients with rare, complex diseases.

For the last 18 months, we were hard at work on finding the right quaternary partner for our member hospitals,” Saunders said. “Emory certainly fit that pursuit as they offer [advanced] specialties and subspecialties that may not be available among the tertiary member hospitals of Stratus.”

Lewin also expressed his approval of the alliance.

“It’s sort of a win-win,” Lewin said. “For the patients who live in a small town in rural Georgia, they’re able to get better care closer to home because of the things we can do to help with their local hospitals.” He added that not only does the alliance aid the patients, but it also strengthens Emory’s medical practices.

Emory will further its educational mission by creating ties with the Stratus hospitals.

“Our [Emory] faculty is helping to teach [at Stratus-affiliated hospitals] in terms of knowledge transfer and education,” Lewin said. “We can help them with workforce planning and how to extend their operating rooms.”

Saunders agreed with Lewin, describing the benefits of this collaboration.

“This may come in the form of consultative services, telemedicine and care coordination of patients being referred to Emory, as well as timely transfer of the patient back to the referring Stratus hospital,” Saunders said.

Beyond the use of Emory’s services, the press release said that the new alliance plans to coordinate the “development of integrated care systems and information technology infrastructure” by using electronic medical records.
“Our hope is that [Stratus] will be open to thinking creatively about what we might be able to do for patients in [Georgia],” Lewin said. “My goal is to make sure that this has a big impact to help the well-being of the residents of the state of Georgia in the 60 communities that are served by the 21 hospitals.”