What Outpatient Care New Albany means for the future of central Ohio health care

OSU_NewAlbany_largeAbove: Outpatient Care New Albany, at State Route 161 and Hamilton Road, is one of several new outpatient care centers from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Not long ago, many health care systems designed facility expansions with profitability at the front of their minds — “How can we serve the most people while ensuring we make money?” 

But when we began dreaming six years ago about what would become the first of a constellation of comprehensive outpatient care centers in Columbus’ suburbs, we turned our attention instead to how we could give central Ohioans brand-new opportunities to reach their best health possible — conveniently and affordably.

It’s one of many reasons that these facilities are different, and why they could improve the central Ohio health care landscape for decades to come.

Laying a foundation

As medical director of Ambulatory Services at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, I sat down in 2015 with Dan Like, executive director of Ambulatory Services, to determine how we could begin creating a building that best prioritized comprehensive health care and what we call “population health.”

Population health is a philosophy that allows health care institutions to bring health concerns into sharper focus, reallocating resources to overcome the problems that drive poor health conditions throughout a population. It uses non-traditional approaches to improve health in a community and beyond, through health policy, research, health education and outreach, and prevention of disease and injuries.

One of Ohio State’s best resources is our ability to bring multidisciplinary care providers and researchers together to collaborate, so Dan and I began by interviewing many of these experts, especially in primary care, to better understand what they and their patients needed to reach their best possible health.

Their answers form the cornerstones of the just-opened Outpatient Care New Albany and future Ohio State Wexner Medical Center care sites to come.

For example, while other health systems built freestanding emergency departments, we heard from primary care providers and surgeons that we could lower costs for patients and expand local access to outpatient surgeries with a new type of facility. What we’ve now built is a facility that’s hospital-like in that its health care professionals have advanced training across a wide spectrum of specialties and subspecialties. But here, patients are able to stay closer to home and, if they choose, they can arrange nearly every aspect of their health care in a single facility.

With care models like Advanced Immediate Care, Outpatient Care New Albany is also able to match patients to providers with advanced training in emergency medicine, without charging those patients emergency room prices.

It’s a new paradigm for patient care that looks to the future, which is more important than our short-term bottom line. We were purposeful about keeping patient costs low, keeping patients out of emergency departments and hospitals whenever possible, and expanding what we can provide within our communities.

Changing the landscape 

Outpatient Care New Albany features 250,000 square feet of state-of-the-art technology and spaces. At State Route 161 and Hamilton Road, the building and its attached outdoor spaces have literally changed the landscape in this area.

Its construction is unique, too, with a layout that groups specialists in ways that make sense for the most patients. When we looked at specialty referrals that primary care made, we built the theme of Outpatient Care New Albany around which specialties were most commonly called upon, such as endocrinologists specially trained in managing diabetes and similar chronic conditions. We looked at the health and wellness needs of patients in our particular community, identifying the chronic diseases that our patients need to manage day in and day out — and we ensured that all of that care was available in one location.

My hope is that Outpatient Care New Albany is also the first of many changes to the health care industry landscape throughout Ohio. Today, these types of facilities are rare. But I believe that, as we see their benefits for patients, patients will grow to expect these connected, comprehensive, convenient services, much as they now expect telehealth options for appointments.

Uniquely Ohio State

As an academic health center, Ohio State offers benefits to patients that reach beyond our compassionate, high-quality care. 

Our providers work within an integrated system in which we can share medical information and truly collaborate to give a patient the care they need based on their individual circumstances. 

Patients also have access to a remarkable number of specialties through the Ohio State system, most of which are available at Outpatient Care New Albany, from allergy care to urology. And when you find care at an academic health center like Ohio State, you have access to all of our clinical trials and to the treatments that are developed through that research.

Ohio State’s size, paired with the unique expertise of each of our thousands of clinicians, gives us the resources to lead in education, research and health care. It allows us to address the complex, changing needs not only in our own community, but across the state, nation and world. We aim to be a model of academic health care for the 21st century, and Outpatient Care New Albany is one step to meeting our goals in our community, giving patients the high-quality, individualized care that we’re known for, right in their backyards.

L. Arick Forrest is an otolaryngologist and the medical director of Ambulatory Services for the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, president of OSU Physicians, Inc., and vice dean of Clinical Affairs for the Ohio State College of Medicine.