Kathleen Merlo, director of Saint Louis University's compliance department, has been selected as chief operating officer of the University Medical Group, SLUCare's 500-plus physician practice group. Her appointment is effective immediately and she oversees and coordinates all practice operations.
Merlo joins Gary Van House, who became SLUCare chief executive officer in November, as a member of SLUI's executive leadership team.
"Kathy is an energetic and effective leader who has dedicated herself to improving and enhancing operations at SLU. She is very positive, very patient and very pragmatic," Van House said.
"Her many years of service give her great knowledge of the University Medical Group and its culture, putting her in an ideal position to lead our operations during a quickly changing health care environment."
Merlo has extensive experience creating and executing new programs that are more efficient, save money and increase revenues.
As director of the University's compliance department since 1999, Merlo developed and implemented many initiatives including University Medical Group physician and provider documentation and billing practices; programs protecting patient privacy; and compliance education programs.
During her time as interim director of SLUCare's practice management operations from 2000-2001, Merlo oversaw the UMG's conversion of practice billing to the currently used IDX system.
She served as executive administrator for the School of Medicine's Department of Internal Medicine from 1989 to 1999, where she managed the clinical operations for 150 physicians in 12 divisions and provided leadership for more than 100 nurses. She designed and directed the department's quality improvement projects and invented and implemented a comprehensive tracking system that captured lost charges, which increased revenues.
Merlo joined the University in 1982 as an advanced practice nurse in the division of hematology/oncology, where she assessed and administered therapy to cancer patients. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees from SLU's School of Nursing.
"I started out as a nurse in the practice and I'm dedicated to the success of the University Medical Group," Merlo said. "We have an outstanding group of physicians and staff members who provide really high quality care here. I am delighted to be back in a role where I can have a direct impact on patient care, working side by side with physicians and staff members to deliver that care."
Nationally accredited and with more than 500 physicians, SLUCare is the medical practice group of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level.