The experience was exhilarating to hear an historic, major national institution plan its future in academic health. For six months, I’ve been listening as the people of Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals talked about an ideal and optimistic future for health and medicine.
Our faculty, staff, students and patients have told us what they want to see and what they will collaborate to achieve – more than 200 people in work groups, and thousands online. I believe this dialogue led to insights with national implications. And I believe it led to optimism – our most powerful force in making decisions about the future.
Jefferson: Health is All We Do
The biggest message I heard was “Health is All We Do.” It is our mission statement and our tagline. No matter where you work, what you do, I heard loud and clear that we are One Jefferson and Health is All We Do. We were told, and I suspect it’s true at many academic centers, remove the silos. Remove barriers to inter-professional ideas and teamwork. Remove barriers to seamless technology infrastructure. Remove barriers to a seamless delivery of care. Remove barriers to advancement and promotion.
That’s how we will accomplish our vision: To reimagine health, health education and discovery to create unparalleled value.
The results will be revolutionary. It’s a bold vision and it requires single-mindedness: One mission, one vision, one set of values, one identity, one Jefferson.
New Pillars for a New Reality
The second biggest message I heard: Find a strategy to address the financial bind that is cutting off innovation and success at the nation’s academic medical centers. The “new math” of academic medicine is bad. It is simply this: National reimbursements for clinical care are falling; the NIH has not been able to expand funding for research; and we cannot keep asking students to pay more in tuition. Those traditional revenue sources of academic healthcare, the academic pillar and the clinical pillar, are under threat. That’s why pundits predict the fragmentation and even demise of the nation’s academic medical centers.
But I believe the future can be shaped by decisions, not by fate. There are two more powerful “pillars” that can support the academic healthcare of the future: Innovation and Philanthropy. It has become an exciting reality for university-based healthcare to lead innovation. We can and must free our creativity to compete in a world of risk, of entrepreneurism – a world where ideas win. We must incubate those ideas and bring them to the marketplace.
In addition, we have an historic legacy to build upon; to build a new culture of philanthropy and community support that creates exceptional value for our mission. With our partners we can make Philadelphia the global hub for the best ideas in health. We are raising the bar, and the stake, in our community – and assembling new resources to help us help others.
Blueprint for Strategic Action: An ecosystem for innovation at Jefferson
Our mission is worthy; our mandate is clear. To harness the excitement surrounding numerous initiatives, some well under way; we’ve created a “Blueprint for Strategic Action,” with six general themes that we believe are directional correct:
ONE JEFFERSON – We want ideas to cross boundaries. What we learn in one environment can enrich others, from the laboratory, to the classroom, to the hospital, to the home and to the neighborhood.
PATIENTS AND FAMILIES FIRST – Making healthcare easier for patients and their families actually creates better healthcare. That is equally true for our employees and their families – better health for our employees makes better health for our patients. In education, it’s true of faculty and students: If we improve the journey of learning for our students, we will improve the journey of health for our patients.
SEAMLESS CLINICAL ENTERPRISE – We can build an innovation-driven ecosystem for healthcare. At Jefferson, we’re developing a vision of an “entrepreneurial academic” model, two words that are often not seen together. Yet, entrepreneurship needs the ideas and verification of the university. And the academic environment can learn from the creativity and risk-taking of entrepreneurs. As a result, we anticipate seeing new models of care, from new primary care teams, to Intensivists to Extensivists, to telehealth.
HIGH IMPACT SCIENCE – Jefferson is already leading translational, programmatic research – discoveries that flow from our laboratory bench to the bedside – not just a hospital bed, but the bedside at home, where people want to live optimistic and healthy lives regardless of an illness. These are the ideas we will incubate as we build innovation and discovery.
PROGRAMS OF GLOBAL DISTINCTION – What we do matters around the world as well as around the corner. To do this, we’ll develop creative partnerships and programs that will enable Jefferson to bring world class educational experiences, cutting edge research and outstanding care to our community.
FORWARD THINKING EDUCATION – We want the coolest students at the coolest place. But it also means lifetime learning for health care professionals that encompass the fun of creating high-impact learning. We anticipate emerging health professions as we develop education across traditional disciplines.
One Jefferson, One Future
Imagine what nearly 13,000 of us can do when we harness our passion, commitment, intelligence and innovation to reimagine health, health education and discovery.
What I’ve learned in healthcare, and from the people of Jefferson University and Hospitals is that what we imagine for the future, we can decide to do. It is our decision.