Evans dreams big as Clarian becomes IU Health

Clarian Health, which is set to change its name to Indiana University Health on Jan. 24, is relying on the academic expertise of its downtown Indianapolis hospitals to pull in patients from a wider swath of the state and the nation.

That’s key because CEO Dan Evans doesn’t see Clarian’s Indianapolis-area market share growing much. Clarian currently claims nearly 40 percent of the inpatient hospital market in the Indianapolis area, according to bond-rating agencies.

“We’re probably about as big as we’re going to get in the local market,” Evans said Monday, adding, “We’re trying to think our marketplace is the world.”

Clarian is a long way from making that vision reality. Just 5 percent of its patients come from outside Indiana—a far cry from the drawing power of Minnesota's Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, the hospital systems that Evans wants to emulate and compete with.

To do so, Evans intends to promote the “thousands” of clinical trials in which Clarian’s physicians are participating as a way to draw in more primary-care patients in the Indiana communities around Clarian’s 16 hospitals. Because the IU School of Medicine physicians are a major chunk of Clarian's medical staff, its facilities and patients participate in more clinical trials than community hospital systems in Indiana.

“People want the same thing in Lafayette as they want in South Bend or anywhere else,” Evans said—emphasizing access to clinical trials, a patient experience that fosters trust and a consistent level of care at all facilities that will come under the IU Health brand.

The clinical trials are a reality. Evans just wants to make it so primary-care physicians can “press a button” and see all clinical trials within the IU Health system that the patient sitting in front of them might qualify for.

Evans’ other two points are more works in progress—although works on which Clarian has been progressing in recent years.

Creating a consistent and retail-like patient experience is no easy task, and as Clarian becomes IU Health, it is working to train its staff and physicians on how to consistently communicate well with patients.

“This is a massive retraining exercise,” Evans said.

Ensuring a consistent level of care depends on the smooth, electronic transfer of patient information from one facility to another. Many Clarian hospitals are fully synchronized electronically, but some are not. And Clarian still will have the challenge of linking thousands of physicians to its electronic networks.

The information technology is key to providing high-level care without duplicating all the medical specialists at every hospital—which is impossible.

For example, Clarian’s Tipton Hospital has no interventional radiologists on hand. But if a patient comes to Tipton in need of such care, he or she can be transferred to Clarian North Medical Center in Carmel in 45 minutes. Patient information travels ahead of them, and even helps the EMTs hook up only the necessary tubes, so the hospital staff spends no extra time unhooking the unnecessary ones.

Information technology is also crucial when it comes to tracking whether physicians are all adhering to the evidence-based medicine guidelines Clarian is establishing at all its facilities.

“Our goal is one standard of care all the time everywhere,” Evans said.

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