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Iowa Liver Center Announced

IOWA CITY – Three Iowa health care organizations announced on February 1 the formation of a new organization to care for patients with liver disease. Called the Iowa Liver Center, the new organization will offer a full range of well-coordinated diagnostic, treatment, and support services to those with liver disease.

The Iowa Liver Center is a collaboration among the University of Iowa Organ Transplant Center, based in Iowa City; the Iowa Digestive Disease Center (IDDC), based in Clive; and Mercy Medical Center–Des Moines (Mercy), including its affiliated clinics and subsidiaries.

In addition to offering comprehensive services for patients with liver disease, the center’s goals include:

  • Using the shared expertise and resources of the participating organizations to ensure the most advanced treatments and services are available
  • Meeting the needs of patients with a full and well-coordinated continuum of care, including the sophisticated and complex care requirements, such as liver transplants
  • Assuring outstanding quality, excellent services, and cost efficiencies through highly effective care coordination among the physicians, nurses, and others caring for these individuals

“This collaborative effort will result in an even better care experience for patients,” said Alan Reed, MD, of the UI Organ Transplant Center. Dr. Reed is professor and chief of transplant and hepatobiliary surgery at UI Hospitals and Clinics. “Bringing together the leading digestive disease physicians, transplant surgeons, and other professionals from Iowa’s three leading organizations in this field allows us to create a streamlined and well-defined process of care. Coordinating care and sharing clinical data will result in higher quality and efficiency.”

Iowa Liver Center logo

Ravi Vemulapalli, MD, of IDDC in Clive, mentioned that the University of Iowa Organ Transplant team and IDDC have a long and established relationship in caring for patients with complex liver diseases.

“The addition of Mercy Medical Center and its clinics enhances the original vision of collaborative and quality care for patients with all forms of liver disease,” Dr. Vemulapalli said. “IDDC echoes Dr. Reed’s enthusiasm for better coordination of care and sharing of clinical data.”

David Vellinga, president and CEO of Mercy, agreed and added: “This collaborative effort is one of the first to result from the creation of the University of Iowa Health Alliance. The Alliance provides a structure and a formal relationship among Mercy, UI Health Care, and others that has led clinicians and administrators to talk seriously about ways in which we continue to improve quality, enhance the patient experience, and realize lower costs. The Alliance also provides the expertise or ‘skill,’ and the size, or ‘scale’ to make real improvements possible.”

Vellinga said similar collaborations are being discussed in other clinical services.

“The physicians and other leaders at Mercy have had great relationships with, and respect for, the University of Iowa’s health care services for many years. The creation of a comprehensive program such as the Iowa Liver Center takes these less formal relationships to the next level. It allows clinical professionals to share comparative data and to use it to reduce unnecessary variation, streamline care, and improve patient outcomes.”

In addition to improved patient care processes, specific initiatives to be undertaken by the participants in the Iowa Liver Center include shared programs, seminars, and other continuing education related to liver disease for specialists and primary care physicians; coordinated quality management, reporting, and certification programs; and improved flow of patient information to the appropriate providers as patients move to different levels of care.

Both Dr. Reed and Dr. Vemulapalli commented on the benefits of enabling enhanced communication among the IDDC physicians, UI Organ Transplant Center physicians and primary care providers, saying, “We are able to share our knowledge and expertise in a whole new way to improve patient care, and that is something we are very excited about.”

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