CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic Celebrates 25 Years of Care in Northeast Texas

This November marks 25 years of growth and dedication to serving the medical needs of Northeast Texas for CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic.

Twenty-five years ago, Tyler’s medical community consisted of a number of small physician practices, each working independently, to provide care to the residents of Smith County.

texas map with smith county
Smith County, located in Northeast Texas, has a population of more than 200,000.

During that time, it became clear that dramatic changes in the health care environment were approaching and to be successful, a more cohesive collaborative approach to patient care was needed. To meet that challenge, in 1994 three physician groups – Cardiovascular Consultants, Tyler Gastroenterology and Tyler Medical-Surgical Clinic, representing 35 physicians joined together forming the Trinity Clinic.

One year later, to propel the level of care for our community even further it was apparent that in addition to the collaboration between physicians, there also needed to be a relationship between the physicians and the hospital.  That was when the Trinity Clinic merged with Mother Frances Hospital to create the Trinity Mother Frances Health System. Dr. Steven Keuer, MD. an Internist, Chief Medical Officer of CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System and President and founding member of CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic summarized it by saying, “It was a natural fit to partner with Mother Frances because we shared the same vision of advancing patient safety and providing high-quality care.

Dr. Steven Keuer

Dr. Keuer added that “the partnership grew out of a continued desire to better meet the needs of the patients.” “We realized that by having our primary care and specialists working together in partnership with the hospital, we could provide a higher level of coordinated care for our patients. “By coming together, we were able to improve our economies of scale, reduce the overall cost of care to our patients and prepare for the challenges of the ever-changing healthcare environment.”

“Aligning with a great hospital really upped the ante in the community in terms of physicians and hospitals coming together to create a patient experience that was both high in quality and also strong in terms of serving the region,” says Jason Markham, Chief Administrative Officer and Senior Vice President of CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic.  One example is being first in our region to provide a system-wide electronic medical record.  This provided a platform for seamless communication between our clinics, hospitals and physicians.  All the data shared amongst all other sites avoid duplicated services and improves efficiencies in care.

Jason Markham
Jason Markham

It was only a short two years ago that Trinity Mother Frances Health System became part of CHRISTUS Health. Today, CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic is Northeast Texas’ preferred multispecialty medical group, with more than 600 physicians and advanced practice providers representing 41 specialties, in 81 locations serving patients across 41 counties.  Our shared vision has expanded access to the award-winning quality of care we provide for our communities throughout the Northeast Texas region.

In its 25 years, CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic has realized a number of “firsts,” including the first hospitalists, infectious disease specialists and the first group of intensivists focused solely on critical care. Other significant achievements:

AMGA Acclaim Award: The American Medical Group Association (AMGA) named CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic as the 2018 Acclaim Award recipient. The award is given to a single health system representing best in the nation in improving the quality and cost of the health care services they provide to their communities. AMGA’s prestigious Acclaim Award highlights the continued research and investigation toward finding the finest models of medical management, coordination of care delivery and a systemic approach to improving the patient experience.



Electronic medical records: While most clinics and systems are just introducing electronic medical records (EMR), CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic was an early adopter of the technology, having used EMRs for more than a decade and upgrading to the EPIC system, the world leader in EMR. “Integrating the clinic and hospital medical records electronically allows our physicians to see and care for the entirety of the patient,” says James Stanford, M.D., Institute Chair, Primary Care, CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic. “If you are a patient at CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic in Kilgore and you have to go to the emergency department in Tyler, your primary care physician is able to see all of the care that is being provided to you through your medical records, to help better coordinate it. The EMR has been an amazing advancement for CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic.”

Doctors discussing difficult case

Growth and recruitment: Going from 35 physicians to more than 600 care providers in just over two decades, including physicians and advanced practice providers, is an amazing accomplishment. “CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic would never have been able to recruit as many world-class providers without being part of an integrated health care system,” said Markham. “With our vision of high quality and compassionate care, as well as coordinated care with a hospital, we’ve been able to recruit specialists from some of the best institutions in the country and across the world.”

The ability to successfully attract physicians has also helped increase the number of specialties four-fold. Markham attributes this to the clinic’s vision for excellence.

“CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic had a desire to be nationally prominent in quality, and in striving for that prominence, they added specialties that would better serve the community,” he said.

Most recently, CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic and Mother Frances Hospital opened CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital – South Tyler, along with the CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital – Tyler, as well as a Heart Valve Clinic and Lung Nodule Clinic. “Our physicians there are doing amazing things,” says Dr. Stanford. “It’s just another example of the continued growth at CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic. That’s a great benefit to the patients in our community.”



MyChart: An extraordinary tool within Epic, that allows patients direct access to their medical records.  A patient can securely manage and receive information about their health, review their records, look at prior and current lab results as well as other tests.  These can all be reviewed and printed if desired.  Appointments can be made within MyChart with the primary care doctor and with their specialists without having to call the office.   Most importantly, patients have the ability to communicate directly with their physician by secure email.

“Patients are going to be much more engaged in their health care in the future by being able to access their medical records and also by being able to interact with their providers online through eVisits and telemedicine,” explained Dr. Keuer. “These are good things, as patients will be able to take a more active part in their health care and enjoy improved access to high-quality, specialty and primary care services.”

CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic as medical home. Over the last few years, CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic has worked to become certified as a primary care medical home for all its care sites. A primary care medical home is a patient-centered, coordinated approach to providing health care. It facilitates partnerships between individual patients and their primary care physicians, and when appropriate, the patient’s family. With an increased emphasis on prevention and chronic illness management, this approach ensures that patient care is comprehensive, high quality and cost-effective.

“CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic has always had a strong primary care group,” says Dr. Keuer. “As a primary care medical home, our patients receive care that’s better coordinated, evidence-based and delivered based on protocols and best practices. It’s a better way to receive care and utilizes a team approach to care.”

What’s next for CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic?

While CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic has always focused on quality and faith-based care, the Clinic is poised for continued growth and excellence with an eye toward the future. Markham foresees the expansion of specialty services to further outlying areas through clinic and HealthPark visits, so patients don’t have to drive to Tyler or other large hospital facilities across Northeast Texas to receive this care. Though East Texans have grown accustomed to easily accessing award-winning care, new developments like telemedicine will allow patients in other areas access to consult with specialists at neighboring facilities, to determine if an in-person appointment is needed or to treat the condition and thereby eliminate the need for the appointment altogether. A greater emphasis on population health – keeping patients healthy to help reduce the burden of chronic illness – is also to be expected.

“As physicians, we’re much more concerned about a relationship with our population,” says Dr. Keuer. “We have to try to convince patients to seek care for prevention’s sake. Passively waiting for a patient to call is a thing of the past. That’s where the industry is headed, and that’s where CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic is headed … But beyond growing to meet needs and evolving with technology and new treatments, CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic is based on a long history of having well-respected, highly trained providers delivering quality, compassionate care. That culture has led to the success of the clinic for 25 years and will continue to lead us in the future.”