Ascension Seton and UT Health Austin has opened the Digestive Health clinic, a new clinical partnership, which will bring together medical and surgical care as well as nutrition and social work.


This is the first partnership between hospital system Ascension Seton, which runs Dell Seton Medical Center, and UT Health Austin, which is managed by faculty and staff at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin.


Digestive Health joins other UT Health clinics such as primary care, musculoskeletal, women’s health, neurosciences, cancer and work-related illnesses. The first UT Health Clinics opened in 2017 when Dell Medical School opened the Health Transformation Building.


Many of the doctors that will work in the Digestive Health clinic had been working in the primary care clinic, but the new clinic will allow for additional staffing as well as focusing on holistic care by including social workers and a dietitian.


It also will be able to focus on some niche areas such as liver, pancreatic and bowel diseases. The clinic will participate in clinical trials and have faculty that also are doing research in these fields.


Adding more staff will add more patients, but that’s not all it’s about, says Dr. Deepak Agrawal, the medical director and chief of gastroenterology and hepatology. "It’s more comprehensive care to patients."


For example, Agrawal says, inflammatory bowel disease, which often impacts college students can cause them to have trouble with coping mechanisms as well as diet. At the new clinic, they can see a social worker and a dietitian the same day as their appointment.


The goal is to "make care more convenient and accessible to patients," he said. "People talk about patient-centric care. We are actually practicing it."


Some of the added resources the partnership is putting into this clinic will allow for improved patient outcomes and experiences, Agrawal says. It’s his hope that it becomes a model for other institutions.