October 11, 1996

Meetings provide faculty, staff with insight into VUMC’s future

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Dr. Roscoe R. Robinson, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, (second from right) answers faculty and staff questions at last week's strategic direction meetings. Also on hand were (from left), Dr. John Chapman, Joel Hardman, Ph.D., and Dr. Harry Jacobson

Meetings provide faculty, staff with insight into VUMC's future

Vanderbilt University Medical Center faculty and staff got a glimpse of the future last week at a series of meetings outlining the institution's strategic direction.

The meetings, a series of six held last Monday and Tuesday, marked the kickoff of "The Year of the Pathfinder," a year's worth of activities designed to highlight VUMC's strategies for leading the way through the rough terrain of today's health care environment.

It's this landscape – which encompasses federal research dollars, the rise of managed care as well as continuing uncertainty regarding reimbursement issues – that VUMC must traverse. But the institution is ready not only to embark on this journey, but to lead the way, said Dr. Roscoe R. Robinson, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs.

"It takes each and every one of us working together to reach our goals. If we are to achieve in this competitive health care market, we must continue to develop internal structures that ensure the delivery of the highest quality care at the lowest possible price, without sacrificing our research and education priorities.

"We must explore and develop new approaches leading to new solutions, or paths, to achieve our overall strategy and global vision. We have been a world leader at the forefront of medicine, and we will continue to rise ever higher, year after year," he said.

The key goals of VUMC's strategy are to maintain and strengthen the three core areas of research, education and patient care while at the same time working to be recognized as a market leader in delivering quality health care and responding to managed care, Robinson said.

To accomplish these goals and steer the institution down the proper path, VUMC has taken, or is planning to take, several steps.

€ A new advertising and marketing campaign will get under way during the first quarter of 1997; the campaign will drive home the message that Vanderbilt, through the Vanderbilt Medical Group, is a source for quality health care in the Middle Tennessee region.

€ Since February, 13 contracts have been signed with managed care organizations to provide health care for their patients.

€ Culture change continues and several teams are currently involved in the reorganization of The Vanderbilt Clinic.

€ The rate at which research grant applications by VUMC scientists are being awarded has remained constant, which runs against current national trends. Most academic health centers are seeing a drop in grant-award levels. Currently, one out of every three grant applications leads to an award, which puts VUMC among the top 25 institutions receiving National Institutes of Health funds. Due to the increasing competition for available federal funding, VUMC is becoming more aggressive in seeking funds from alternative and private sources to continue on the path of discovery and application of new knowledge.

€ Cost control measures at Vanderbilt University Hospital have produced dramatic results. Since 1990, cost-per-patient levels have been reduced by 40 percent, without affecting quality of care and patient satisfaction; the hospital is reorganizing into service lines to better complement the range of health care services available; these factors are combining to make the hospital and all of VUMC's health care services more attractive to managed care organizations.

€ The Vanderbilt University School of Medicine is wasting no time in responding to a vastly different health care environment; the challenges facing the school include the continued acquisition of funding, the education of new physicians and the continued support of VUMC's three goals. The School of Medicine is making changes in its curriculum to reflect the prominence of managed care and the need for more primary care physicians. These changes include a family practice rotation. The goal is to produce health care professionals that blend the finest health care education with the business practices that exist in today's health care marketplace.

€ The Vanderbilt University School of Nursing's strategies for the future also reflect the realities of the health care marketplace; its production of advanced nurse practitioners has facilitated the opening of three primary care sites in the Nashville area during the last year, and will continue to develop partnerships with physicians to facilitate the school's mission. The school – ranked among the top 10 percent of nursing schools nationwide and currently graduates the state's largest number of specialty nurse practitioners – focuses on primary and acute care nursing programs.

€ Networking will continue to be a major focus of VUMC; the task will be to package the medical center and market it to today's buyers of health care services. Primary care services will be expanded to make VUMC more attractive to the managed care organizations in the area. Several recent affiliations with physician practice groups in the Middle Tennessee area have VUMC well on its way toward exceeding its networking goals.

The emphasis on new ventures will remain strong and flexible. This commitment is reflected with the formation of Vanderbilt Health Services (VHS), which is devoted to networking and business development. VHS the fifth operating unit of VUMC, joining VUH, VMG, VUSM and VUSN.

€ Even amid the atmosphere of cost-containment, VUMC will continue to invest in its infrastructure to keep the institution at the forefront of research and patient care. Currently, work is under way to expand the Capers Avenue garage, which will include an addition of space for family medical services.

"Each step we take is critical to the future of Vanderbilt University Medical Center," Robinson said. "Our path is clear, and we must continue on the journey."