Merged Cardiology Group Reveals Name

University of Minnesota Physicians and the Minnesota Heart Clinic announced two years ago that they would merge their cardiology programs; now the group has a name-University of Minnesota Physicians Heart at Fairview.

After nearly four years of planning and preparation, the merged group of cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons from the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Heart clinic finally has a name: University of Minnesota Physicians Heart at Fairview.

The merged group, comprised of 53 cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons, was announced two years ago with a mission to become one of the top 10 cardiology programs in the nation.

Since the announcement, the group has been working create infrastructure and integrate the two cardiology programs-a move that has taken longer than expected, according to Dr. Robert Wilson, the group's executive director.

Wilson, who was named executive director of the group in March 2009, said that the group spent the two years prior to 2008 crafting a merger agreement and tweaking the group's service line and structure. He said that there have mixed results with other similar types of mergers across the nation and that the merger was met with a lot of skepticism. So, the group wanted to make sure that it “had a [merger] agreement that was workable.”

Since 2008, the group has been integrating the cardiology programs' and administration and unifying the system-a work in progress that Wilson said could take another four or five years-by creating uniformed standards for quality, clinic practices, and protocols.

One of the benefits to the merged group is its ability to provide access to the U's subspecialized care. Wilson noted that many patients have no idea how to get such treatment from those subspecialized doctors. The merged group makes it easier for patients to receive subspecialized care at several locations throughout the metro area since cardiologists are available at other locations, not just solely on the university's campus.

“[The group] is increasing services so that patients don't have to travel to get the kind of cardio medicine that they deserve,” Wilson said.

In addition to increasing access for patients, the group will also save money by cutting duplicative care and combining administrative tasks.

The group's cardiologists started seeing patients shortly after the merger was announced in 2008. The group now serves seven Fairview hospitals and 14 clinics throughout Minnesota and plans to expand its number of cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons to 55 by the end of the year.

The seven hospitals that the group serves are: The University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview Southdale Hospital, Fairview Lakes Medical Center, Fairview Northland Medical Center, Fairview Ridges Hospital, Fairview Red Wing Medical Center, and Fairview University Medical Center-Mesabi.