Friday, January 25, 2013

New clinical enterprise to benefit patients and medical education

KU Hospital

The University of Kansas Hospital, The University of Kansas Physicians (the physicians’ practice group) and the University of Kansas Medical Center are taking steps to formally establish a new, more integrated clinical enterprise and to benefit medical education.

These three entities, along with 18 medical foundations (the clinical departments) have agreed to work toward a clinical partnership to enhance health care delivery.

While talks will continue to mid-2013 on the details of the enterprise, campus leaders predict the eventual model will structurally bring the hospital and physicians into one organization, with physicians holding leadership and board positions.

This will more closely align the hospital and physicians and allow them to focus beyond immediate inpatient and outpatient care to managing the health of the community, a necessary function as the market adopts new policies related to health care reform.

Among other potential changes would be organizing more multi-disciplinary programs around specific diseases rather than traditional medical specialties.

Campus leaders also predict a new integrated partnership will further enhance the growing national reputation of the campus and strengthen recruitment and retention of high-caliber physicians and faculty members.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback praised the move, saying, “The creation of the new clinical partnership will be as important to the success of the campus as was the independence of the hospital in 1998.  Everyone is coming together, breaking down barriers and embracing new ideas in order for every campus function to be the best it can be and to better serve Kansans and the region.  I support this effort.”

“The goal is to develop a streamlined model for healthcare delivery to further enhance quality of care and improve the overall patient experience.  It will involve all aspects of healthcare, from easing clinic appointment access to enhancing the inpatient care experience; all organizations on our campus will be aligned in order to provide effective healthcare to patients,” said Bob Page, president and chief executive officer of The University of Kansas Hospital.  “A new clinical enterprise also should make it easier for other hospitals and physicians to connect their patients with the specialty care we provide.”

The new clinical enterprise will also be designed to promote collaboration, reduce duplicate services, consolidate billing to patients and minimize costs.

“By streamlining the patient care operations, we can provide some of the best coordinated, advanced medical care in the country,” said Kirk Benson, MD, president of The University of Kansas Physicians.

The clinical enterprise creates opportunities to enhance the education and training of physicians, a key responsibility of academic medical centers.  This new clinical enterprise ensures even more future high-quality doctors, many of whom will choose to maintain their practices in Kansas and surrounding communities.

“This clinical structure will grow the academic enterprise through new investments and more efficient funding of medical education,” said Steven Stites, MD, interim executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center and interim executive dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

Finally, the proposed clinical enterprise will increasingly enable health education, patient care and research to come together for the benefit of patients and communities, which sets academic medical centers apart from other providers.

"We have a special responsibility as a flagship university to help build healthy communities throughout Kansas and the region and the partnership is central to achieving that mission,” said Bernadette Gray-Little, PhD, Chancellor of the University of Kansas.

This type of clinical enterprise is consistent with the steps other leading health systems and academic medical centers across the country are taking, as they work toward a more integrated, cost efficient and quality-driven environment for patient care and medical education.

In the current structure, The University of Kansas Hospital, independently governed, is responsible for all inpatient care and manages several key medical clinics. Additionally, medical education and research projects occur in the hospital.  The hospital will remain an independently governed state authority under the new clinical enterprise.

The University of Kansas Physicians, an independent organization, manages the overall administrative functions of the 18 physician practices, with physicians responsible for their individual physician clinics.

As an academic medical center, physicians are members of the hospital medical staff, practice in specialty clinics and are faculty members of the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

The School of Medicine is part of the University of Kansas Medical Center, which is part of the University of Kansas.

The Medical Center is responsible for the medical research on campus and the education of physicians, nurses and other health professionals.  Medical residents (medical school graduates seeking additional education in specialty areas) also are currently supervised by the Medical Center.

The Lieutenant Governor of Kansas, a surgeon on the hospital’s medical staff, said the campus organizations have made remarkable progress toward a streamlined enterprise.

“With National Cancer Institute designation and inclusion on a number of national ‘Best Hospital’ lists, the national reputation of this campus is already growing.  But, as a physician, it is gratifying to see both patient needs and medical education driving these talks, with innovation and efficiency an additional result,” said Kansas Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, MD.

Talks will continue on the vision for a clinical enterprise through at least mid-2013.   The final plan will require approval of the hospital, university, practice plan and each of the 18 clinical departments.