We’re Keeping Our New Year’s Resolution: Better Health Care for All
Dec 28, 2015 7:00 AM
What does excellent health care look like?
It’s a question on the mind of every health industry leader in this country, and it’s a question of value. For all that we spend on health care in the U.S., what do we get in return? Are we getting our money’s worth?
At University of Utah Health Sciences, I’m proud to say, the answer is yes.
Every day, we carry out three parts of our mission—treating patients, conducting research and training tomorrow’s biomedical scientists and health professionals—all with an eye toward advancing health for the communities we serve. We have set our sights on nothing short of establishing a new model of health care for the nation, and we’re making real strides.
Efforts to get a handle on our costs have led to efficiencies and global improvements in our delivery of care. Even as health spending nationally continues to rise, we’re bending our cost curve. This year marked the sixth year running of being among the top 10 academic medical centers in quality and safety in the country. And our move to put physician reviews online, and to offer extended hours and same-day test results at our growing network of community clinics, is further improving our stellar patient satisfaction scores.
New patient visits to our hospitals and clinics rose by nearly 12 percent in 2015, and monthly urgent care visits nearly doubled. Our School of Medicine welcomed its first fully expanded class of 122, and received a record 3,800+ applications for next year. That’s more than triple the number of applicants we had in 2011.
We welcomed 219 new faculty members, created a Program in Personalized Health and Department of Population Health Sciences and, despite an uncertain research-funding climate, secured a 7 percent increase ($277 million) in grants. Among those grants are large multi-year projects where our scientists are collaborating with colleagues around the country to tackle big costly health problems, from preventing disease transmission in health care settings to demystifying the teenage brain, crowdsourcing triggers of pediatric asthma and exploring the genetics behind why so many children born with heart defects struggle in school.
Further proof of our global reach in basic and translational science and evidenced-based medicine: Several of our faculty were elected to the National Academies of Science and Medicine, and one was named a new investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Huntsman Cancer Institute joined the world’s elite with their designation as a comprehensive cancer center, the highest award possible from the National Institutes of Health.
Our educational footprint is equally broad. The University of Utah already has a foothold in Asia with its South Korea campus, and with funding from Utah philanthropists Lynette and Bob Gay, established itself in Africa with the opening of Ghana’s Ensign College of Public Health and the Songdo campus of the University in Korea.
These are but a few of the accomplishments that should fill us all with pride as we reflect on 2015. It’s hard to imagine topping this year, yet that’s what we, as scholars, scientists and healers, strive toward. We advance health. It’s our privilege, and a promise that we fulfill year after year at the University of Utah.
So, to all of you who make us all feel so proud, I say, thank you and congratulations. Here’s to an even healthier 2016.
2015 In Review
- University of Utah’s medical campus turned 50 years old, an occasion that we celebrated with cake and a community “roast” featuring the leaders of neighboring health systems and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.
- The hospital’s foundation marked the anniversary at its annual Ebony & Ivory Gala at La Caille restaurant. The event raised over $700,000 to help fund an expansion of our Newborn Intensive Care Unit.
- University of Utah Health Sciences welcomed 219 new faculty members.
- We created a new Program in Personalized Health and Department of Population Health Sciences in the School of Medicine and we reorganized the College of Health into five new departments.
- New patient visits to our hospitals and clinics rose by nearly 12 percent, and monthly urgent care visits nearly doubled.
- To keep up with demand, our hospital added 38 new beds.
- Five new urgent care clinics and three new alliances with regional hospitals and physician groups have expanded our reach and made it easier for our patients to access care.
- Construction began on the 200,000-square-foot Farmington Health Center, the University’s 12th medical center and flagship facility in Davis County. The center will offer the same services at the University Health Care, Huntsman Cancer Institute and Moran Eye Center, including same-day surgery, urgent care services and a full service pharmacy.
- Fourteen new TeleHealth sites opened, and TeleStroke doubled its sites from 12 to 24.
- The $36 million, 85,000-square-foot Ray and Tye Noorda Oral Health Sciences Building opened last spring. It provides advanced facilities for dentistry students, patients and faculty.
- Top 10 in Quality: For the 6th year in a row, University of Utah Health Care (UUHC) ranked among the top teaching health systems in the country with receipt of the prestigious University HealthSystem Consortium's (UHC) Quality Leadership Award—a winning streak matched by only one other health system in the U.S.
- Contributing to our overall placement this year was our No. 1 rank in patient safety.
- UUHC also ranked in the top 13 percent nationally for patient satisfaction.
- The University’s Huntsman Cancer Institute won comprehensive cancer status, the highest designation possible from the National Cancer Institute.
- For the third consecutive year, University of Utah Health Care won Hospitals & Health Networks magazine’s "Most Wired" award.
We were Recognized
- Nobel laureate Mario R. Capecchi, Ph.D., the human geneticist whose daring idea of “knockout” mouse technology revolutionized the study of mammalian biology and disease, and Vivian S. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., senior vice president for health sciences who is at the forefront of health care reform and is a widely acclaimed educator, researcher and practitioner of radiology, received the rare honor of being elected to the National Academy of Medicine, formerly known as the Institute of Medicine.
- Distinguished professor of biochemistry Brenda L. Bass, Ph.D., who has devoted her career to understanding mysterious double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) molecules, received one of the highest honors in science when she was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.
- Jared Rutter, Ph.D., a biochemist whose research has significantly expanded the understanding of human metabolism—chemical processes that synthesize and break down the building blocks of cells—and its relation to disease was named an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Oncological sciences professor Brad Cairns, Ph.D., successfully underwent competitive of renewal of his HHMI investigator award to secure funding to study chromatin-transcription relationships, with an emphasis on development and cancer.
- For programs and research to boost gender inclusion and equity pediatrician Carrie Byington, M.D. was awarded the 2015 AAMC Group on Women in Medicine and Science Leadership Award.
- With an application led by Yoshimi Anzai on behalf of our quality and value team, our Value Driven Outcomes Program was recognized by the AAMC with a Learning Health System Champion Award.
- A plan to lower the costs and increase the quality of undergraduate medical education developed by Sara Lamb, M.D., associate dean for education, and Janet Lindsley, Ph.D., assistant dean for foundational science curriculum, earned a spot on a national consortium tasked with reforming how physicians are trained.
- Faculty generated $279 million in research funding through more than 800 grants.
- Inventions and technology developed by faculty and students this year yielded $9.7 million in royalty revenue and 36 patents (with 48 patents pending).
- With a sizeable donation from California surgeon and entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., and collaborative effort with the Regeneron Genetics Center, the Utah Genome Project is undertaking an ambitious effort to analyze the genomes of 5,000 Utahns in whom diseases or conditions run in the family. The genetic information these partnerships yield, coupled with the resources of the Utah Population Database, will help scientists diagnose and find cures for some of our most devastating illnesses.
- Pediatric cancer specialist Joshua Schiffman, M.D. won national attention for genetics research that helps explains “Peto’s paradox,” or why elephants rarely get cancer. His findings could lead to new ways to protect people from cancer.
- Working jointly with the creator of the low-cost “Nepal” method of cataract surgery, Geoffrey Tabin, M.D., an eye specialist at Moran Eye Center, made more progress in the war on blindness. Through a charity he started, Tabin has done thousands of these microsurgeries, which cost just $25 and are now being taught in American medical schools as the preferred method for some patients.
We Raised the Educational Bar
- Applicants to our already highly competitive School of Medicine reached 3,861, more than triple the number of applicants in 2011.
- The College of Pharmacy ranked seventh for National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, and has been in the top 10 for the last four decades. It placed 10th in U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Graduate Schools.
- The School of Dentistry, now in its fourth year, had 503 applicants this year for 40 seats. Faculty won a three-year, $1.5 million grant to provide oral care to substance abuse patients and a $100,000 grant to provide dental care to residents of long-term care facilities.
- Our College of Nursing ranked 26th in U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Graduate Schools. Major grants include $7.9 million to support research on environmental exposure in children with asthma, prenatal genetic screening and electronic informed consent for biospecimens. The College also received $1.6 million to support the training of psychiatric nurse practitioners.
- Several of the College of Health's programs are once again highly ranked, with Physical Therapy 14th of 172, Occupational Therapy 47th of 151, Audiology 42nd of 64, and Speech-Language-Pathology 32nd of 229 programs.
- University of Utah Health Sciences received $80.5 million in donations from 27,000 donors, including:
- $5 million from the Skaggs Institute for Research for the College of Pharmacy.
- A $2 million gift from Zeke Jr. and Kay Dumke to support construction of a new rehabilitation building.
- We lost a good friend with the Dec. 11 death of entrepreneur and 25-year University of Utah’s Board of Trustee Reed W. Brinton. He was 100 years old.
- Katherine “Kay” Elizabeth White Dumke passed away peacefully in November, 2014. A lifelong friend and supporter of the U., and a member of our alumni board and College of Nursing Development Board, Kay will be dearly missed.
- John Raymond Noorda passed away on May 25, 2015 at the age of 62. John served as faithful trustee for his parents’ philanthropic interests, which included foundational support for our new Ray and Tye Noorda Oral Health Sciences Building.
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