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Address outlines VUMC’s strategic direction

Nov. 3, 2016, 10:34 AM

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., delivers Wednesday’s State of the Medical Center Address in Langford Auditorium. (photo by Joe Howell)
Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., delivers Wednesday’s State of the Medical Center Address in Langford Auditorium. (photo by Joe Howell)

In his State of the Medical Center address on Wednesday, Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., President and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), and Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, described a “Strategic Compass” to help the Medical Center continue to “grow and shine” in the years to come.

Balser began the fall 2016 Leadership Assembly in Langford Auditorium by reiterating VUMC’s four key priorities for this year: workforce engagement, academic performance, strategic growth and Epic Leap. He said for VUMC to remain a leader in health care, the organization must constantly focus on key priorities, and these four areas would continue to be top priority throughout this fiscal year.

“With the change in our governance this spring, all of us now own VUMC — it will be what we make it. I want us to always be a healthy organization and one that leads,” he said. “Our mission has not changed. We are as committed as ever not only to our leadership in clinical care, but also to our leadership in training and discovery. These combined capabilities drive our capacity for innovation and make us distinctive against our competitors.”

Balser said the VUMC strategy planning process identified six categories of distinctive qualities and capabilities that VUMC will “double-down on” and grow over the coming years:

• Leadership in Clinical Care
• Connected Culture
• Basic and Translational Research
• Learning as a Core Competency
• Personalized Medicine
• Population Health

“As we continue to focus on building these six areas, how do we ensure that we do so through fresh eyes, with a view toward meeting patients where they are today and where they will be tomorrow?” he asked. He then described the VUMC Strategic Compass as a metaphor for guiding the future direction of these capabilities. “We are not creating a strategic plan to sit on a shelf; instead we’re creating a compass to help us set our direction.”

The Four Points of the Strategic Compass are:

 Design for Patients and Families — Caring for people in a personalized way, wherever they are, whenever they need us.

Balser described how VUMC can become a “health engine,” utilizing its advanced and ever-growing analytic capabilities to drive smartphone applications that will engage patients more directly to encourage them to proactively manage their own health, while becoming continuously engaged with VUMC in ways that fit with their lifestyle.

An example is Vanderbilt Health On Call, a Medical Center innovation that was unveiled this week that uses a smartphone app allowing patients to order a $99 home visit from a Vanderbilt nurse practitioner.

 Discover, Learn and Share — Finding new ways to share our vast and historic learning and discovery capabilities, while helping patients connect with one another, both here at VUMC and through the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network.

More than 900 clinical studies involving more than 2,700 participants are currently underway in VUMC’s patient care centers. “Patients want to receive care from a health system that is innovative, where they can receive care they can’t get anywhere else. So we want to grow our clinical trial offerings across all clinical service lines,” he said.

One way to accelerate the process of educating patients about clinical trials, while allowing them to learn more about their health challenges and opportunities, is through a “people like me” platform connecting patients with others who have similar characteristics. This platform would also allow clinicians at VUMC to look at outcome and response trends across vast numbers of patients with comparable symptoms. “This capability will be a competitive differentiator for us,” he said.

 Making Diversity and Inclusion Intentional — Listening to diverse perspectives, and stopping to reflect on inclusiveness before making decisions.

Disparities in access to health care between races, socioeconomic classes and gender are growing, Balser said. To counter that problem, VUMC must be more diverse, more representative of the patients it takes care of, and it must be more intentional in its efforts to be inclusive. He played video messages from Consuelo Wilkins, M.D., MSCI, executive director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, and Jesse Ehrenfeld, M.D., MPH, director of LGBTI Health, emphasizing the importance nurturing an environment where all people feel they are welcome, understood and supported.

 Amplify Innovation — Diversifying and growing revenue by bringing new services to our patients, our network partners, and people everywhere.

Examples are services VUMC provides today, through areas such as specialty pharmacy, supply chain, and advanced laboratory services. “All of these services are distinctive at VUMC because they are informed by our research and our clinical intelligence,” Balser said. “They are opportunities for us to have impact more broadly, particularly through the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network hospitals and clinicians.”

Balser closed his remarks by speaking about innovation, remarking about the public excitement whenever a new phone is announced by Apple.

“The point is, we want to make ourselves accessible and connected to people in every possible way, leveraging all we have at our fingertips. Apple has stayed ahead of the innovation curve, providing what people really want for almost 40 years. They are seen as essential. We need to be the same, for our long-term health and leadership at VUMC,” he said.

C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., gave an organizational update at Wednesday’s Clinical Enterprise Leadership Assembly. (photo by Joe Howell)
C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., gave an organizational update at Wednesday’s Clinical Enterprise Leadership Assembly. (photo by Joe Howell)

In his talk “Aligning our Strategic Compass,” C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., Deputy CEO and Chief Health Systems Officer, opened his comments by announcing key promotions, new leadership arrivals and recent accolades for VUMC’s people and programs.

Pinson made clear the connections between the institution’s strategic directions, key priorities and annual pillar goals. He encouraged working personal plans with specific deadlines aimed at each individual’s contribution and linked to the organizational pillar goal.

Pinson said that for the first quarter of the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the Medical Center is performing well and that 79 percent of the organizational goals are at the threshold level or above across all six pillars. “This is the best first quarter performance that I can ever remember,”

Pinson said. “Congratulations to all for getting off to such a great start.”
Quality measures, including reductions in hospital-acquired infections, are improved as well, as are several financial measures, including strong inpatient and outpatient volumes.

In the Service Pillar, Pinson said, “We have made an impressive 12 percentile positive movement,” he said. He also spoke about five- and 14-day goals for patient appointments.

“Being responsive to patients is important. We are reworking the access center and increasing staffing,” he said. “Consumers prioritize convenience and access.” A new training program is now available to assist all to be more facile with service recovery.

For Innovation, Pinson spoke about the growth of VUMC’s Telehealth programs. “We are on track to have over 10,000 visits this year compared to just 4,000 last year,” he said. “The Telestroke program is resulting in 86 percent of these patients remaining at partner hospitals in their own communities and closer to their families. We are delighted to see many other telemedicine initiatives progressing.”

Another innovation that is improving health care and patient satisfaction is the Meds to Beds program, which provides bedside consultations by pharmacists.

“We have and are making significant progress on our Pillar goals, we are in lock-step with where health care is heading, and we are further strengthening our organization,” he said.

Pinson also mentioned “You Make a Difference Every Day,” a new two-day event to be held next spring that will recognize all employees. “This fun-filled, interactive event will celebrate the best thing about VUMC, our people,” he said. “You will hear more about this event soon.”

The assembly also included announcements of the Credo, Five Pillar Leader and Elevate Team awards, and inspiring comments and a musical performance by special guest Charles Esten, star of the popular CMT series Nashville.

To view these and other Leadership Assembly presentations please go to the Elevate website. Your VUnet ID and password are necessary to sign on.

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