VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, October 14, 2016

Our Top Five List

Good morning!

Recently Chancellor Vitter asked each of his senior leaders to develop a list of the top five strategic initiatives in our respective areas of oversight.

That should be easy enough, right?  

Well, it was relatively easy to develop a list - of about 25 priorities.  Whittling that long list down to five was the hard part.

Having worked on our list with my senior leadership group, I can see the wisdom of zeroing in on only five initiatives. This approach recognizes that although we need to do many things - perhaps hundreds - to achieve our full potential as an academic medical center, it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to focus on everything at the same time.  That's a formula for organizational gridlock.  

So, we have to make choices. But those choices can then become goals that receive our complete attention and energy.  

I'm sharing my list of our top five initiatives with you today. I want all of you to know what these priorities are so we can work together to achieve them. Some of them may involve you more directly than others, but they are all vital to our continued success.  

hand_hygiene_16Clinical Quality. This one should be no surprise. I've made it clear over the last year that improving clinical quality is our number one strategic goal.  Among the critical factors in our becoming a high-reliability organization are transparency in the collection and reporting of performance data related to issues like hand hygiene and hospital-acquired conditions, along with the cultivation of personal accountability for quality, from our physicians to our housekeeping staff. I'm encouraged that we've laid a solid foundation for quality improvement and are moving in the right direction. Over the last year, for example, our hand hygiene compliance has increased from percentages in the low 50s to the mid-70s, we've created a Clinical Intranet to share information, and we're conducting quarterly quality reviews with engaged departments.

Platforms for Collaboration with Other Systems. Across the country, we are seeing a paradigm shift in the way the health-care industry is organized.  Providers are consolidating to respond to a new emphasis on individual health status and population health, as opposed to the traditional focus on episodic care. These changes are putting a premium on operational flexibility and collaboration among providers through various business arrangements.  

As the state's only academic medical center, it's important that we partner with others to provide the best care for Mississippians. Those relationships may take many forms. I know I'm grateful for the hundreds of long-standing partners we already have across the state involved in our education programs.  We'll need to formalize different types of clinical relationships for the future and we'll need to achieve greater operational flexibility to do so. What has become abundantly clear is that the law that established UMMC in 1950 and that set the broad parameters under which it operates is not well-suited to this new, more dynamic health-care landscape. We'll be working with our state leaders to make the case that a healthier Mississippi depends in large part on a vibrant, healthy and more agile UMMC.

Children's of Mississippi Expansion. We've set an ambitious $100 million fundraising goal to expand our Children's Hospital and build a new pediatric clinic.  In Joe and Kathy Sanderson and Eli and Abby Manning, we've got the right people in place to lead us toward that goal. In our long-standing relationship with the Friends of Children's Hospital, we've got the right partner to engage the broader community.  And we've got the right cause.  Our current facilities, though serviceable, are just not up to the standards we want for our state's children and families when they need us the most.  In addition to the campaign, which is beginning to move into high gear, we are focused on planning these facilities so we get the very most for our investment and ensure they serve us well for many years.

Mayo Clinic Partnership. In just a few short years, our relationship with the Mayo Clinic has exceeded even our own high expectations of what could be achieved. For example, we've established a biobank for our Cancer Institute that was designed to share information with the Mayo Clinic biobank. So our cancer patients gain the advantage of having their tumors mapped against everything in Mayo's database when determining the best therapeutic approaches. This is the promise of “precision medicine,” and we could not hope for a better partner in pioneering this new frontier than Mayo.  In the year ahead, we'll also be working with Mayo in the planning and development of our new Clinical Research Unit on the sixth floor of University Hospital.

Strategic Academic Growth.  Our academic programs have surged in enrollment during the last decade, and we now have about 3,000 students, including residents and fellows. We'll continue to see growth in certain programs, most notably in medicine, with the completion of the new medical school building next summer, thanks to the support from the Legislature and the Governor.  Our future growth will be responsive to ongoing analysis of the needs of the state's health-care workforce. Another growth driver will be the Bower School of Population Health. We'll be recruiting faculty and developing curricula during the next few months, aiming for a strong launch of the school in the fall of 2017.

That's my top five for this academic year. There are literally dozens of other important things we are working on - improvements in patient throughput and length of stay, business planning, inpatient and ambulatory capacity, and targeted clinical growth, to name a few. If you don't see your project on my list, that doesn't mean it's not a vital part of our plans.

But as we intently focus and make progress on these five major priorities, we'll be laying the groundwork for even more success in the future, always measured in relation to our ultimate goal of A Healthier Mississippi.

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