Over 750 employees. More than 200 physicians and advanced practice providers representing 18 specialties. Today, The Longstreet Clinic, P.C. is one of the largest multi-specialty practices in Northeast Georgia and consistently ranks among the top physician group practices in metro Atlanta in the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s annual Book of Lists.
But things looked a lot different 20 years ago when a small group of physicians started negotiations to form a multi-specialty clinic that would provide high quality medical care to the community.
On the one hand, bringing doctors together into one group was seen as a way to control costs and negotiate contracts with managed care providers. But the formation of The Longstreet Clinic, P.C. was about much more than overhead and economics.
“The purpose was to deliver more efficient and higher quality medical care in a changing environment,” said Dr. John Browning, retired physician and TLC’s first president.
Small start, big vision
In 1994, Northeast Georgia OB/GYN, Gainesville OB/GYN and Northeast Georgia Pediatric Group merged to form The Longstreet Clinic, P.C.
Dr. Jim Leigh, a former TLC president and surgeon whose group came aboard a few months later, recalls brainstorming sessions to name the Clinic.
“We came up with the name trying to think of names that meant something to the Gainesville area,” Dr. Leigh said. “The Longstreet Clinic was the name that was finally selected after considering many other names.”
By January 1, 1995, eight single specialty practices had signed on to become part of The Longstreet Clinic.
“The idea of doctors coming together was what it was about,” said Dr. Buddy Langston, a retired TLC physician and founding member. “It allowed more time to focus on the patients, not the paperwork.”
The groups operated in separate locations for more than five years, even using the former Wishbone Fried Chicken location on Broad Street as the central administrative office. In late 2000, TLC began moving into the new Medical Arts building on Jesse Jewell Parkway, bringing multiple specialties under one roof. Today, TLC has offices in nine other Northeast Georgia cities including Baldwin, Braselton, Buford, Suwanee, Dahlonega, Oakwood, Dacula, Demorest and Toccoa.
“There were a lot of people who put countless hours into establishing this Clinic, and we are who we are today thanks to their dedication,” Dr. Leigh said. Filling gaps in medical care
With the centralization of resources, the group was able to work together to meet medical needs the community had been missing, as well as recruit the manpower to make them a reality.
One major gap the Clinic set out to fill early on was bringing a neonatology presence to Gainesville. Both pediatric and OB/GYN patients and practices in the area benefited immediately when potentially premature infants no longer had to be sent to Atlanta for delivery and medical treatment. TLC later brought the first perinatologist to Gainesville to treat high-risk pregnancies.
Another important contribution to the community was the start of a hospitalist program in 1997. Longstreet Inpatient Medicine was the first of its kind in town, and today has grown to include nearly 20 physicians and nurse practitioners who focus solely on the treatment of patients at three regional hospitals.
“There are studies showing that hospitalists provide cost-effective care that shortens hospital stays,” said Dr. Danny Askew, retired physician and former TLC president.
Staying ahead in a changing landscape
One of the critical factors that fueled the merger of the original eight single-specialty practices was the need for improved information systems and general information technology support among all the practices.
“Changes come in medicine. The ability to recognize what changes you need to adopt and what to avoid is tantamount to the community,” Dr. Browning said.
In the face of steep up-front costs, TLC believed electronic medical records technology was worth investing in when others in the region were hesitant. Implementation of EMR at The Longstreet Clinic began in 2001 with the Center for Pediatrics, and by 2005 included all practices.
In 2008, TLC received the top honor in the statewide e-Technology Awards for successfully developing and implementing an electronic medical records system and for its adaptation of information technology to improve care, efficiency and safety. The technology also allows TLC to benchmark itself on key quality indicators to ensure a high standard of care across all practices.
Since then, TLC has remained committed to innovation in health care. By embracing compassionate evidence-based standards of care, The Longstreet Clinic consistently receives recognition from national organizations that recognize physicians and best practices for patient-centric, outcome-based medical care including:
Certification as NCQA Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home for 6 primary care practice sites
NCQA recognition for Diabetes and Heart/Stroke care
QOPI certification for best practices in cancer care
ICAVL-accredited Vein Center & Vascular Testing Lab
One of Metro Atlanta's Top Physician Group Practices (Atlanta Business Chronicle)
From the beginning, the Clinic’s founders wanted TLC to be the trusted health care provider of choice for all.
“We said, ‘Why should people have to drive to Atlanta to get care?’” Dr. Langston recalled. “We believed that we could work collaboratively with the Hall County Health Department and Northeast Georgia Medical Center to develop a comprehensive prenatal care program.”
“Together, we have created a unique program which has improved access to quality prenatal care, decreased the percentage of sick and low birth weight infants born to Hall County women and reduced costs associated with providing this care,” Dr. Browning added.
Strong leadership proves key
Drs. Askew, Browning and Langston say that from the beginning, they’ve had the right woman at the helm in Longstreet Clinic CEO Mimi Collins.
“Bottom line is we couldn’t have done this without her,” Dr. Askew said.
The physicians credit her keen sense for picking out trends in medical care and surrounding herself with the right people in helping the Clinic to maintain a steady course and to respond well to current conditions.
“We couldn’t have had a better person to be at the rudder,” Dr. Langston said.
The Longstreet Clinic operates as a private, fully integrated multi-specialty group that is owned and run by the physicians, making leadership key. TLC’s bottom-up governance structure allows physicians more individual autonomy than many other similar practices.
“You have to have the right physician leadership to help formulate policy and direction, and the right administrative people to go to for advice and to help implement the policies,” Dr. Browning said.
The retired physicians say that it’s the newer physicians who have accepted leadership responsibilities and will be the ones to move the Clinic forward.
The Longstreet Clinic’s focus remains the well being of those who put their trust in our hands.
We continue to offer patients the attention of a small, single-specialty practice with the convenience of a large multi-specialty clinic while meeting the challenges of practicing medicine in the 21st century.
The Longstreet Clinic, P.C., incorporated in 1995, is a fully-integrated multi-specialty medical group owned and managed by physicians. The group has grown to over 750 employees including 200 physicians and advanced practice providers. We treat patients in the following specialties: internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, adult and pediatric inpatient medicine, general surgery, oncology, hematology, physiatry, orthopaedics, sports medicine, neonatology, perinatology, allergy and immunology, neurology, neurosurgery, vascular surgery, colorectal surgery, bariatric surgery and medical weight loss. The Longstreet Clinic is repeatedly ranked by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of the largest physician group practices in Georgia, and one of the largest independent group practices. With its main campus located in Gainesville, TLC providers also see patients at offices in Baldwin, Buford, Braselton, Cleveland, Dahlonega, Demorest, Oakwood, and Toccoa. The Longstreet Clinic, P.C. Doctors you know. Care you trust. Internet
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