Hospital Impact—‘Neighborhood’ hospitals help address healthcare access gaps

Female doctor talking to male patient in hospital bed
Small neighborhood hospitals are less expensive to maintain, so they can offer access to quality healthcare services to communities that would be unable to support a full-size hospital. (Getty/monkeybusinessimages)
Richard Fogel

Healthcare delivery is changing. In addition to great medical care, patients expect easy access, affordability and convenience. 

Several barriers within the traditional hospital model can prevent us from providing the optimal patient experience. But with thoughtful planning and execution, we as healthcare leaders have the potential to benefit patients, providers and insurers by offering innovative solutions that improve the patient experience and offer more efficient and more effective care.

At St. Vincent, part of Ascension, we wanted to set a high standard with a focus on quality, convenience and a personalized care experience. So after assessing our population’s needs, St. Vincent launched a major initiative to address gaps in healthcare access across central Indiana. The goal was to meet patients where they are in their healthcare journey and provide convenience and access 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Through the introduction of our “neighborhood” hospitals, we are able to bring acute care services closer to home for those we serve. 

The neighborhood hospital model has gained momentum with healthcare systems nationwide in response to an overall industry shift to access and value-based care. Although these hospitals are scaled down in comparison to familiar hospitals, they allow patients access to a convenient location for acute injuries or illnesses that require emergency care.

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It is important to note that these hospitals provide the full spectrum of emergency care as well as in-patient hospital stays. For patients who require more highly specialized services, we provide a seamless transfer and the full integration of our medical records. 

Because our neighborhood hospitals are small and less expensive to maintain, we are able to offer access to quality healthcare services to communities that would be unable to support a full-size hospital. That’s why we call them our St. Vincent Neighborhood Hospitals.

In these hospitals we’re also focused on the patient experience, and have designed them so that patients are seen within 15 minutes of their arrival—more efficient than a typical emergency department wait period. We’re creating an environment that allows patients to receive the right care at the right place at the right time. 

The introduction of neighborhood hospitals allows us to stay connected to patients throughout their healthcare journey. By offering new comprehensive care options, we can see each patient’s full health story at each point in their care. After all, the improvement of health begins with a focus on what’s important to patients and greater access to compassionate, personalized care. 

Dr. Richard Fogel is the chief clinical officer at St. Vincent, providing vision and direction for clinical services and medical quality. He is the immediate past chief executive officer of the St. Vincent Medical Group, a physician-led, multispecialty practice launched by St. Vincent, and the chairman of the office of the chief medical officer.