University Hospital at the Medical Center.
University Hospital and UT Health San Antonio are forming a nonprofit aimed at increasing access to health care. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

UT Health San Antonio and University Health System (UHS) announced plans Wednesday for a joint venture that will operate as a nonprofit aimed at increasing and improving access to treatment. 

While the providers have worked together to serve Bexar County’s low-income residents on a contractual basis for over 50 years, joint governance is a first step in creating an integrated network of care that has been lacking in San Antonio, UT Health San Antonio President Dr. William Henrich said at a press conference. 

 “This is something our city doesn’t have, and we are the seventh largest city in the United States,” Henrich said. “It increases access to care and it increases efficiency among the institutions charged with care of the public health.”

UT Health San Antonio President Dr. William Henrich speaks before the groundbreaking of the Women and Children’s Hospital at University Hospital. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The strategic plan for integration has yet to be developed, but the first step of the partnership has already taken place. UT Health San Antonio and UHS recently invested in a new electronic medical records system that will allow doctors with either entity to access patient records. The system will improve health outcomes and save money for both patients and health care providers, officials said. 

The institutions also will work together on plans for future facilities, which includes the construction of the UT Health San Antonio Multispecialty and Research Hospital, a proposed eight-story teaching hospital in the Medical Center expected to open in spring 2024.

Blending the two institutions will bring together more than 15,600 health care professionals working at the medical school, hospitals, and specialty clinics throughout the city, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said. “First-class health is also a huge economic generator for the community,” Wolff said. 

UHS President and CEO George Hernández thanked the Bexar County Commissioners Courts for enabling UHS, the county’s taxpayer-supported hospital system, to expand its facilities, calling the financial support the “secret sauce” that enables UHS to function successfully as the county indigent care provider. 

The collaboration will allow for a more seamless flow of doctors among partnering facilities, which helps to streamline costs to patient and providers and allows for a smarter use of funds and less duplication of services, Hernández said.

The new nonprofit integrated health delivery system will expand training opportunities for students in the medical field. 

“It’s hard to contain our enthusiasm about what this means for our citizens,” Henrich said. “Everyone should stay tuned for the exciting advances that we’ll see in the near future.”

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.