March 20, 2014

Physician Council helps bolster clinical enterprise

The Physician Council for Clinical Service Excellence helps ensure that clinical faculty have a clear voice in shaping major initiatives affecting patients, clinicians and clinical staff at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The Physician Council for Clinical Service Excellence helps ensure that clinical faculty have a clear voice in shaping major initiatives affecting patients, clinicians and clinical staff at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Formed in 2011, the council grew out of leadership discussions about promoting clinical excellence and solidifying VUMC’s standing as the region’s preferred health care provider.

“The council is comprised of well-regarded clinicians whom we can call on regularly to give leadership frank and constructive feedback on institutional initiatives and priorities,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and CEO of the Vanderbilt Health System. “We’re also seeking to engage the council in fostering clinical excellence and top-flight service throughout the VUMC clinical enterprise.”

Serving staggered two-year terms, the council’s 29 rotating members represent Vanderbilt’s diverse clinical enterprise. According to its charter, the council was formed “to foster an environment that is the best place for patients to receive care, for physicians to practice medicine, and for employees to work, by engaging physicians in providing superior, evidence-based care and extraordinary service.”

Within months of forming, the council launched the Medical Center’s first orientation program for new providers.

With prompting and input from the council, the School of Medicine has evaluated and revised its job promotion criteria for clinical faculty, putting this career track on a more even footing with the school’s career tracks for scientists and educators. Identifying and addressing any institutional impediments to work satisfaction for clinical faculty and staff remains high on the council’s agenda.

The council helped guide Vanderbilt’s participation in a major federal incentive program promoting use of electronic medical records. The program, commonly known as meaningful use, posed new routines for health care providers.

“We wanted to make the introduction of meaningful use collaborative rather than top-down,” said Paul Sternberg Jr., M.D., permanent chair of the council, chief medical officer at VUMC, chief patient experience and service officer, and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. “In the planning stage, the council served as a sounding board, and members later served as torch bearers for the rollout.

“As the government or the institution impose requirements on what physicians need to do in order to be compliant, the council can help ensure that we do it in a way that is least intrusive to clinical practice and most sensitive to what our clinicians want to accomplish.”

A subset of the council’s members have launched a second group, the Standard Clinic Operating Model Implementation Committee (SCOMIC), which is helping determine how Vanderbilt can standardize and improve the outpatient experience.

“The council is an engaged group of Medical Center clinicians who are thoughtful about their approach to patient care, are willing to lead change and are active in helping inform decisions about work redesign and technology,” said the permanent co-chair of the council, Meg Rush, M.D., professor of Clinical Pediatrics and chief of staff of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Going forward, the council will advise VUMC leaders about proposed standards for physician accountability and about measuring physician performance against clinical process and outcomes standards. The council will also consider developing a process for recognizing exemplary physician performance.

“The council is about elevating what Vanderbilt is doing in the clinical service realm to the next level,” said the council’s permanent vice-chair, André Churchwell, M.D., senior associate dean of Diversity and professor of Medicine, Radiology and Radiological Sciences, and Biomedical Engineering. “This group is a great resource for our institution. It’s made up of top clinicians, many of whom also serve on other committees concerned with service and clinical quality issues.”

Physician Council for Clinical Service Excellence members

John Block, M.D., Radiology
Marta Crispens, M.D., Obstetrics and Gynecology
Jesse Ehrenfeld, M.D., MPH, Anesthesiology
James Felch, M.D., Ph.D., Ophthalmology
Gaelyn Garrett, M.D., Otolaryngology
Etoi Garrison, M.D., Ph.D., Obstetrics and Gynecology
Tom Groomes, M.D., Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Rob Hood, M.D., Cardiology
Alex Hughes, M.D., Anesthesiology
James Johns, M.D., Pediatric Cardiology
Ian Jones, M.D., Emergency Medicine
Eric Lambright, M.D., Thoracic Surgery
Christopher Lind, M.D., Gastroenterology
Jeff Martus, M.D., MS, Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation
Tracy McGregor, M.D., MSCI, Pediatrics
Steven Meranze, M.D., Radiology
Paul Moore, M.D., Pediatrics
Laine Murphey, M.D., Ph.D., Internal Medicine
Scott Parker, M.D., Family Medicine
William Petrie, M.D., Psychiatry
Jan Price, M.D., Internal Medicine
Carol Rauch, M.D., Ph.D., Pathology
Henry Russell, M.D., General Surgery
Eric Shinohara, M.D., MSCI, Radiation Oncology
Jill Simmons, M.D., Pediatrics
Allison Smith, M.D., Ophthalmology
Carmen Solorzano, M.D., Endocrine Surgery
Reid Thompson, M.D., Neurosurgery
David Uskavitch, M.D., MAT, Neurology