St. Paul Heart Clinic shuts down; Allina, HealthEast absorb docs

St. Paul Heart Clinic, the last large independent cardiologists’ group in the Twin Cities, is figuratively closing its doors with its doctors joining either Allina Hospitals & Clinics or HealthEast Care System.

In a letter to patients posted on its website, the 36 year-old clinic said Allina and HealthEast will absorb its 35 cardiologists by January.

“We are confident that our decision to integrate with Allina and HealthEast will be the beginning of an exciting new era of delivering cardiovascular care,” the letter said. “As physicians, we can further our efforts toward developing innovative care models, enhancing service offerings and achieving superior clinical outcomes. Under the new arrangement, hospitals and your cardiologist now can effectively implement a common electronic medical record. This helps support your care goals.”

Facing tighter federal reimbursement dollars, independent clinics are seeking the strength of large healthcare groups that can provide doctors with greater pricing power and access to larger patient pools. Across the country, about 70 percent of similar cardiology groups are integrated or in discussions to integrate, the letter says.

In addition, cardiology is shifting from inpatient to outpatient care with greater focus on prevention and disease management, hospital officials say.

The clinic’s cardiologists will remain at their location connected to Allina’s United Hospital. HealthEast will open a new facility for them at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“We look forward to having the St. Paul Heart team join us at United Hospital,” President Tomi Ryba said in a statement. “Their addition complements the cardiology capabilities already present in the Allina system in the west and north metro, and will allow us to better provide cardiac outreach services at our regional hospitals and clinics.”

The Minneapolis Heart Institute already operates at Allina’s Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

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