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Arkansas Children’s Hospital Releases Strategic Plan For Growth

3 min read

Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s announcement in August that it was building a hospital in northwest Arkansas was part of its plan to expand its services across the state.

“We feel as the only children’s hospital in Arkansas, we need to be as responsive as possible to every child in the state of Arkansas,” Dr. Robert Steele, senior vice president and chief strategy officer for ACH, recently told Arkansas Business. “And to do that, you do what health care is doing across the country and bringing care as close to where that patient is.”

Earlier this year, ACH completed a massive five-year strategic planning session that focused on three goals: improving child health, expanding the hospital’s reach and achieving top-tier status. ACH will target five service areas for growth: cardiac services, neurosciences, hematology/oncology, pulmonary and endocrine.

One of the reasons for the strategic plan is the increased competition that ACH is facing, according to the ACH Strategic Plan: Creating Our Healthier Tomorrow, which was released to Arkansas Business.

“Competition from hospitals and physicians who primarily treat adults is substantial and increasing,” the ACH Strategic Plan said. “Surrounding children’s hospitals are becoming more successful in their efforts to increase their inpatient volumes by pulling children from Arkansas across state lines for care.”

For its fiscal year that ended June 30, 2014, ACH had net patient revenue of $476.8 million, which was up 4.3 percent from the previous year.

Its plans to expand services include a variety of measures, such as offering more school-based clinics and increasing the use of telemedicine.

ACH had announced in August that it would build a children’s hospital in Springdale that is estimated to cost $100 million for the building. The hospital is expected to be open in 2018.

School Plans

In December 2014, ACH started its first school-based health center on the campus of Franklin Elementary School in Little Rock, where a nurse practitioner treats elementary students.

Steele said more school-based clinics are in the works across the state. The timeline for when another one might open remains unclear, however.

Steele said ACH will have talks with school districts, doctors and parents in a community before it decides to open a school-based center.

“We’re not just going to suddenly invade some town in Arkansas and just say, ‘Hey we’re going to do school-based health whether you like it or not,’” Steele said.

But having school-based clinics, especially in rural areas, would give pediatric care to students who wouldn’t otherwise have easy access to health care workers, the ACH report said.

Another option to provide care to students would be to deploy a mobile medical van, which would be similar to one of ACH’s three mobile dental vans, he said.


Telemedicine “will affect and support all other initiatives,” the ACH report said.

In the next three to four months, ACH plans to “substantially expand” its telemedicine services.

“Right now, the reach has been limited to only those facilities that have a telemedicine monitor on the other end, so that’s really just hospitals,” Steele said.

Steele would like telemedicine to be expanded to physicians’ offices around the state. Telemedicine could be conducted by using a computer or tablet instead of the kinds of monitors that a hospital uses and which cost around $20,000, he said.

In addition, most children’s care is done on an outpatient basis, he said. ACH’s report said that during the next decade, total inpatient admissions are expected to fall by 3 percent. Meanwhile, outpatient visits are expected to rise by 4 percent over the next five years.

“I believe [telemedicine] will dramatically increase the access to care,” Steele said. “We could potentially have access to every provider across the state.”

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