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Q&A with Mark Kimball, CEO of Erlanger Murphy Medical Center

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | September 14, 2018
From the September 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: Why did Erlanger decide to acquire Murphy’s?
MK: It was about expanding access throughout the region. I believe they looked at the market and saw it was underserved and went about growing services throughout the region. It’s about patient access.

HCB News: Were there any staffing changes or changes to what Murphy’s offers due to the acquisition?

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MK: We’re just doing evaluations and looking at it as an opportunity to grow our services. The hospital is in great shape, we’ll just be doing a good bit of expansion when it comes to primary care as well as specialty care.

HCB News: What are the plans going forward for Murphy’s?
MK: The first step – we know we have a large deficit when it comes to primary care physicians. So we’ll be recruiting new providers to our area. We’ve already begun the process of recruitment. We recently went through a strategic planning process, and in the next 60 days we’ll have a complete strategic plan in place for the Murphy’s region. It will really give us the roadmap we need to grow.

HCB News: What challenges does the hospital face?
MK: The biggest challenge is the shortage of primary care physicians. The other is access to healthcare. One thing we already have rolled out, is Erlanger on Demand. It provides full-time access to a board certified physician either by telephone or video. It’s $49 per visit. It’s for use for any age group. Physicians can prescribe from all 50 states. It’s for minor medical issues only, it does not replace their relationship with their provider. Common conditions treated with Erlanger on Demand include things like cold and flu, rashes, allergies, UI, pinkeye . . . non-emergency conditions.

Anyone can sign up, they just need to provide medical history, and other important information. It will give them access from anywhere in the country

HCB News: What are your predictions on how healthcare should change and how it might change over the next five to 10 years?
MK: I think the successful organizations really need to focus on building a culture around service. They have to focus on quality outcomes as well as great customer service to patients. We have to expand our primary care and the connection to the regions we serve. We need to work to be visible, to be interactive, to sit down and build services around those needs.

I think it’s worth mentioning – we are a small critical access hospital located in Murphy, North Carolina. These operations are not your typical critical access hospitals. When you start looking at the services we provide, this is a full-service hospital. We have four surgery suites. We intend to grow our services. We’re sitting down with the community to figure out what all their needs are and we’re building programs around those needs. Our future is bright. I’m very excited about the potential and direction we’re heading under the Erlanger leadership, and how we’re going to grow to serve these patients.

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