The Moments That Define Us: A Look Back at 2016
Dec 20, 2016 5:00 PM
Having arrived at University of Utah Health Sciences (UUHS) just over five years ago and having witnessed first-hand just how much a collegial institution like ours can accomplish in that time, I’m reminded that so much of what we’ve achieved has been built on the legacy of those before us. We are fortunate to have such a rich legacy.
This year, for the second time in our history, our health care system was named the nation’s top academic medical center in quality, safety and accountability. And in the intervening five years between number one rankings, we have consistently been ranked in the top 10.
Being recognized this year among peers like No. 2 NYU and No. 3 Mayo was a great reflection on our entire health system and our ability to accomplish the goals that we set in our sights. It was also a fitting ending to an exceptional year for not only the Health Sciences clinical mission but for our students who train at one of the top systems in the nation and for our research enterprise as we accelerate discoveries that can change the way we practice and deliver science and medicine.
Our successes are a credit to the outstanding teamwork among our physicians, staff and administrators. As we continue our evolution to an integrated health system, we are driven by cutting-edge research and by setting the highest standards for training health care’s future leaders. By working together as one system, we can be lifelong partners in health for our patients and our communities.
Last year, we drew national attention as our health system earned a place as the first academic medical center in the U.S. Olympic Committee’s National Medical Network, and our researchers were tapped to study the rise of Zika virus. Carrie Byington, M.D., was asked to chair the USOC’s Infectious Disease Advisory Group, leading efforts to keep U.S. Olympic athletes and travelers safe at the Rio Olympic Games. She is the primary investigator of a National Institutes of Health-funded study of Zika virus that has been successful not only thanks to Dr. Byington’s expertise but the unique diagnostic resource we have in ARUP Laboratories. We wish Dr. Byington well as she returns to her alma mater, Texas A&M University, to head its health system in a position that is a testament to her remarkable capabilities. Her colleague, Sankar Swaminathan, M.D., is continuing in his efforts to track down how Zika virus was transmitted in the first Zika death in the continental U.S.
Drawing on our rich history of scientific discovery, medical informatics and the Utah Population Database, UUHS continues to play a vital national role in the advancement of personalized medicine. This year Huntsman Cancer Institute CEO Mary Beckerle, Ph.D., was selected by Vice President Joe Biden to serve on a blue-ribbon panel as part of the White House’s “Cancer Moonshot” initiative to double the rate of progress toward curing cancer. HCI hosted a visit from Vice President Biden in February as part of his national listening tour, and our experts in medicine, pharmacology and computing were also asked to participate in the White House Precision Medicine Initiative Summit.
The future of both basic science and clinical research at UUHS is bright, thanks to more than $281 million in grants generated by faculty in FY2016. From gene editing to fixing mutations responsible for sickle cell disease to determining how provider communication affects patient decisions, our findings are propelling remarkable advances in human health. And the notability of our talented investigators is not going unnoticed—investigator Jody Rosenblatt, Ph.D., was selected as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Scholar, a $1 million research award for early-career basic science researchers. Meanwhile, Prof. John Opitz, M.D., one of the world’s foremost authorities in medical genetics, recently received the Federal Republic of Germany’s Cross of Merit, the country’s highest award recognizing exceptional political, economic, social or intellectual achievement in service to society.
It’s also been a banner year for attracting the talent who will further develop our outstanding academic programs. We welcomed Rory Hume, DDS. Ph.D., as our new School of Dentistry dean. With Dr. Hume at the helm, we’re moving that much closer to our goal to become a top-10 U.S. dental program as we welcome our third year of students. Another exciting new arrival at the start of 2017 will be Randy Peterson as the new dean of the College of Pharmacy. His expertise will be key to our ongoing efforts to develop personalized drug therapies. Scott Summers, Ph.D. and A. Mark Williams, Ph.D. joined us in our newly realigned College of Health as chairs of the new departments of Nutrition & Integrative Physiology and Health, Kinesiology & Recreation. In the School of Medicine, Angela Fagerlin, Ph.D., became the inaugural chair of our Department of Population Health Sciences, and Kathy Cooney, M.D., joined us to chair our largest department, Internal Medicine.
Our schools and colleges made impressive showings in 2016, including the College of Nursing’s national No. 2 ranking for NIH funding. The College’s doctor of nursing practice program ranked No. 16 in the country, while nursing informatics ranked No. 8 and the nurse midwifery program finished No. 9. The College of Health can boast the No. 20 physical therapy program in the nation, and the School of Medicine’s ranking rose six places in just two years.
I’m also happy to report we have both the talent and the tools necessary to fully realize our goal to become a value-driven health system. So far, 24 scorecards have been developed with the help of our Value Driven Outcomes (VDO) tool for assessing the true costs of care. Harvard Business School strategist Michael Porter, Ph.D. and Press Ganey Associates Chief Medical Officer Tom Lee, M.D., M.Sc., took notice of our peer-reviewed paper in the Journal of American Medicine, noting in an accompanying editorial that we have shown “achieving better quality and lower costs is possible, and everyone can benefit: patients, hospitals and physicians, and society.”
Last but certainly not least, in 2016 we celebrated two exciting openings that are allowing us to increase access to high-value care. The new 4,000-square-foot L. S. Skaggs Patient Wellness Center, located in the School of Dentistry, takes an innovative, interprofessional approach to improving the health of patients with chronic disease or disability. In October, we opened our 12th community clinic, the Farmington Health Center. This 136,000-square-foot facility offers primary, specialty and urgent care closer to our patients’ homes and an essential training ground for University of Utah health sciences students who will become Utah’s providers.
These are just a few of the notable moments that defined 2016 in the Health Sciences. Below, find a few more highlights we can all be proud of.
- This year marked the 50th anniversary of the University of Utah School of Medicine Building.
- The Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library had its 45th anniversary.
- University Hospital Trauma Services celebrated 15 years as a Level I Trauma Center.
We Expanded Access
- The number of patients visiting our hospitals and clinics rose from 1.3 million to 1.7 million.
- University of Utah Health Plans expanded its presence in the Utah market, offering individual plan coverage in 16 counties statewide.
- We welcomed three new affiliates to University of Utah Health Care in 2016, bringing the total number of affiliates to 18.
- We launched virtual visits as a convenient way for patients to access care.
- Developed 11 new telemedicine programs and five new Project ECHO service offerings to treat chronic and complex disease in rural and underserved areas.
We Provided Excellent Care
- Doctors performed University Hospital’s first living-donor liver transplant, following in the footsteps of University of Utah surgeons who performed the procedure at Primary Children’s Medical Center.
- We offered the world’s smallest pacemaker.
- Committed to both access and high-quality care, the Orthopaedic Center opened a new after-hours injury clinic.
- We provided some of the best kidney transplant outcomes in the nation.
- The Utah Center for Innovation and Simulation in Education became an American College of Surgeons-Accredited Education Institute, placing it in the company of 80 other such centers across the U.S.
- The Thrombosis Service was named an Anticoagulation Center of Excellence.
- University of Utah Health Care and Primary Children’s Hospital were named a Center of Excellence by the Food Allergy Research & Education Clinical Network.
- We launched the Imagine Perfect Care initiative to engage faculty and staff in continuous improvement at every level of our health system.
We Were Recognized
- U.S. News & World Report ranked University Hospital the No. 1 hospital in Utah, and Huntsman Cancer Institute as one of the top in the nation.
- University Neuropsychiatric Institute Executive Director Ross Van Vranken won the Utah Hospital Association’s Distinguished Hospital Executive Award.
- Becker’s Hospital Review named University of Utah Hospital to its list of 100 Great Hospitals in America, and our Gordon Crabtree was named a “CFO to Know.”
- University of Utah Hospital earned four stars, the highest ranking in Utah, in the federal government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services annual quality rankings.
- Researchers found:
- CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing can fix the mutated gene responsible for sickle cell disease in stem cells from the blood of affected patients.
- The structure of an insulin molecule produced by snails may be an improvement over current fast-acting therapeutic insulin.
- Babies whose moms get flu vaccinations while pregnant have a significantly reduced risk of acquiring influenza in their first six months of life.
- Tweets are more than just small talk, and can be used to measure community health indicators.
- A factor isolated from babies’ cord blood could treat sepsis.
- A metagenomics pathogen detection tool could change how infectious diseases are diagnosed.
- Ancient viral invaders in our DNA help fight today’s infections.
- Even frail, older adults benefit from intensive blood pressure reduction.
- Cell therapy may mend damaged hearts.
- When doctors admit bias, patients are more likely to trust them.
We Raised the Educational Bar
- Applications to the School of Medicine have tripled over the last three years from more than 1,500 to more than 3,880 for 125 spots in this year’s Class of 2020.
- The College of Nursing was ranked No. 2 in the nation in National Institutes of Health research funding.
- University surgeons are impacting practices around the globe, and demonstrated a new laparoscopic device and techniques via a worldwide broadcast from Mongolia.
- The College of Pharmacy was awarded a key $19.5 million contract renewal to identify compounds for treating therapy-resistant epilepsy.
- We delivered more than $126 million in uncompensated care to our community.
- We donated 404,127 pounds of food to the Utah Food Bank.
- Our medical students volunteered 20,000 hours to those in need.
- We engaged more than 19,000 participants in community health education programs.
- In FY2016, the Health Sciences welcomed 164 new full-time faculty members and 1,337 additional full-time staff.
- ARUP welcomed a new CEO, Edgar Braendle, M.D., Ph.D.
- John Baker joined UUHS as Chief Development Officer to lead our fundraising efforts.
- University of Utah Health Sciences received $74.5 million in donations in FY2016 from more than 35,000 donors.
- Earlier this year we said farewell to one of our great champions of quality, former UUHC CEO David Entwistle, who is now leading Stanford Health Care to what we’re sure will be new heights.