Five Investment Areas for FY 2019
I’ve been away all week at two different medical meetings. I don’t mind occasional travel and enjoy hearing perspectives on national issues from others, but after seven-plus days it sure will be good to get back home to Mississippi!
We are officially in the last quarter of our fiscal year and are continuing to work on a budget for the new year that begins July 1. If recent trends continue, we are on track to meet our break-even budget target and actually should end the year a little better than that. I’m grateful for that and for all the good work on your part that made it happen.
As we’ve gone through this budget season, I have identified several areas where I’d like us to make a modest investment and I’ll talk about those today.
Keep in mind that schools and departments will have their own projects and initiatives for which they’ll want to prioritize funding. Our clinical departments, in particular, continue to be laser-focused on quality improvement initiatives and I appreciate that.
And of course, we always want to make capital investments in our physical plant and equipment. These range from replacing air handling units to adding patient-care capacity, and we have projects in the pipeline to increase capacity in the ICUs, the ORs and the medical-surgical floors. I've asked Dr. Shannon Pittman, professor and chair of family medicine, to lead a group looking at our primary care strategy and the best way to add ambulatory space. It’s usually the case that there is more “opportunity” than money to pay for all the improvements we’d like to make, so we have to set priorities.
As for non-capital priorities, there are five areas where I’d like to make a strategic investment, if finances permit. I talked about one of them last week: the Office of Wellbeing. Between the Department of Preventive Medicine, the Wellness Committee and the Burnout and Resilience Task Force, we’ve pieced together a good foundation for the future development of our activities to enhance the health and wellbeing of our faculty, staff and students. Now we need a more permanent structure to get us to the next level.
A second area of focus will be the creation of an Opioid Task Force. This will not require much in the way of new resources but it does rise to the level of a significant institutional priority. The national crisis of opioid abuse has many dimensions, including patient care; law enforcement; pharmaceutical management and control; and prescriber regulation and discipline. Some of these are under our direct purview and some are not. It’s important for UMMC to be aware of and responsive to developments in all these areas, and in some cases to have a leadership role. I’ve asked Dr. Ann Kemp, professor of family medicine, to lead this task force.
As I’ve talked about before in VC Notes, I’ve generally been very pleased with the UMMC website that we debuted last July. The new site, which merged two previously existing websites into one, was the product of a Herculean effort by our DIS web services team and staff members from Marketing and Public Affairs. What this process revealed, however, is that we are not devoting enough resources to what is the virtual front door to UMMC in the Information Age. So I am working with the leaders of these areas to close the gap in staffing and bring a more strategic mindset not only to the management of our Internet presence but also to our Intranet sites.
The fourth area of focus is our strategic plan. As you know, we are a little past halfway through our current five-year plan that runs from 2015 to 2020. I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made on our strategic priorities, which I often touch on in this column. However, for the last two years we’ve not had a dedicated individual tracking and monitoring our progress with the tactics identified in the current strategic plan. I’m pleased that Terry Anderson, executive director of strategic business operations, has agreed to take on this responsibility and set up an Office of Strategic Planning. I’m also not expecting this change to result in a significant outlay of new resources, but it will receive more focus and energy as we wind down one planning cycle and begin a new one.
Finally, I’ve asked Human Resources to fast-track a comprehensive compensation review of all three mission areas at UMMC. We will not have the ability next year to make all the compensation adjustments we would like to make, but based on a comprehensive review we will identify those areas of greatest need so we can focus our investment in a fair and strategic manner.
We’ve had a good year of recovery after a challenging FY 2017 – so far, at least. I’m optimistic we will finish the year in good shape and then build on that in the coming year, looking for efficiencies and making thoughtful investments with an eye toward our future. I appreciate what you are doing every day to build that future and A Healthier Mississippi.