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Sansum Clinic, Cancer Center of Santa Barbara Forge New Partnership

The new entity will facilitate communication and efficiency through electronic health records and allow for more medical trials

Two Santa Barbara health-care organizations have formed a new partnership that they hope will allow physicians to communicate more efficiently and offer patients a broader range of cancer treatment.

Sansum Clinic and the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara will join forces in September to become the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara with Sansum Clinic.

Rick Scott, president of the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, said the nonprofit organized a task force in 2011 to look at its long-term goals and what’s happening in health care.

“The conclusion we came to is that we needed a different clinical model that was more multi-disciplinary and more integrated,” he said. “In order to do that we really needed a partner, and Sansum made the most sense.”

The Cancer Center’s hematology, radiation oncology and nuclear medicine groups will now work under Sansum, and the center will remain as a foundation that will perform fundraisers and allocate funds. While the merger will save money through eliminating redundant positions, Scott said there won’t be any layoffs and that patients will continue to see their regular doctors in the same buildings.

“This is an opportunity to bring those different disciplines together and get them working together in different ways,” he said. “It also gives us more capability of participating in clinical research. Because we have a larger entity and a large database of information, we’re more attractive to bigger clinical trials. That’s important because that opens up all of the latest clinical opportunities to patients in Santa Barbara who don’t have to travel outside the area.”

The new entity will adopt Sansum’s electronic health record system, EPIC, a system that Network Hardware Resale helped build the network infrastructure for. All of the information that used to be written down on paper now will be recorded and stored electronically. EPIC creates a continuously updated chart for each patient that doctors can access anywhere, at anytime. The electronic system will especially impact pharmacies, according to Scott.

“If you think about someone who has five or six doctors all over town who are all feeding the prescriptions in the same system, the pharmacist can make sure all the prescriptions are tied together and there are no adverse reactions,” he said.

Sansum CEO Dr. Kurt Ransohoff said the merger will create a big opportunity in terms of medical trials and research funding that wasn’t previously available.

“By combining resources we will become a site that’s more suitable for research trials, be able to specialize in specific illnesses and work cooperatively,” he said. “We’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen with health-care reform, but the concept of better coordination is something that will be important.”

Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @NoozhawkBiz, @noozhawk and @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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