Commitment to excellence

Leadership is not a one-day thing. It is a constant commitment to excellence, a habit . . . a daily practice. ~Author unknown

January 14, 2011

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

Have you noticed? … 2011 began just as busy as 2010 ended.

Thankfully, we are off to a good start on several important activities. One of these is our commitment to implementing an electronic health record. The next six months will see us complete this major initiative. Last Friday we had the day-long, kick-off event for this MCGHS EHR Project. Physician and Nursing Champions along with Cerner and key IT personnel gathered to begin this important project. Our initial discussions revolved around an overview of the objectives and assignments along with activities for the next milestone event in our EHR rollout. In the near future, you will be hearing about these activities and the status of the project. There are several other day-long design and review sessions planned toward the end of the month. We are excited to have begun this well-needed project and also this week we unveiled some new enhancements in our current use of Powerchart. These included a new user-friendly look for entering prescriptions, PowerNotes, and new navigation features. Your support will be crucial as we roll-out this electronic health record. This is a major undertaking and of huge significance nationally as institutions ‘gear-up’ for healthcare reform. According to a survey just released from the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, over 80 percent of the nation’s hospitals, and 41 percent of office-based physicians, currently plan to access the federal incentive payments for adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR).

Medical Schools, teaching hospitals, and indeed all of our healthcare systems are preparing for the impact the changes with the Affordable Care Act will make at the institutional level. According to the results of a recent AAMC survey in which a hundred institution members of its Council of Teaching Hospitals and Health Systems responded, one in five of the survey’s respondents were already in a “high state of readiness”. Health IT and involvement in Community Health were areas of the greatest preparedness. Not only are institutions looking at federal incentive payments for “meaningful use” of health IT, it was also reported that e-consults and telemedicine were “important” or “very important” parts of the plan to improve access to care as millions of new insured patients are anticipated to begin entering the system. Sixty-two percent of the respondents said they had defined comparative effectiveness research – potentially a key part of helping to identify effective reforms and practices – as an institutional priority. We have been involved with the AAMC since early in the process of looking at tools to help institutions prepare for the healthcare reform. Of course, we all appreciate that the direction and impact of proposed healthcare reform is still uncertain and highly debated. On the other hand, the need to meaningfully address our spiraling cost of healthcare is a point of convergence. Figures recently released by CMS underscore this urgency: In 2009 total U.S. health spending rose four percent to $2.5 trillion ($8,086 per person). As a result, health spending grew to 17.6 percent of the gross domestic product in 2009, up from the 16.6 percent in just the prior year. Some costs are escalating disproportionately. We also learned that a new analysis by the National Cancer Institute has estimated – based on growth and aging of the U.S. population as well as the prevalence of all forms of cancer – that there could be $158 billion (in 2010 dollars) in medical expenditures for cancer in the year 2020 – this staggering figure represents an increase of 27 percent over current expenditure. This all adds to our urgency to provide quality care at the best value to our community.

The ESP Steering Committee is continuing its presentations to the President’s Executive Cabinet. On January 18, the Education Pillar will be presented to the Cabinet. Momentum on this initiative continues full force. Later in the month, the Research Pillar will be presented. Please continue to look for more information and details from the ESP Steering Committee.

The School of Medicine 2011 Education Retreat was held yesterday. Over one hundred of our colleagues participated and they received a wealth of new information from the keynote speaker – Kevin Krane, MD, Professor of Medicine and Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at Tulane University School of Medicine. The theme of the retreat was team-based learning (TBL) and we were able to hear how Tulane extensively uses TBL, a teaching/learning strategy to engage an entire class in active learning, facilitated by a single faculty member. As many of you know, this strategy is being utilized increasingly in medical education to foster active learning in large group settings, thereby accomplishing some of the goals of small group learning without requiring the participation of many faculty facilitators. We hope you were able to glean some great information and came away from the retreat a little more “educated”. Thank you to Dr. Fincher and her team for putting this program together.

We also want you to know that the Department of Family Medicine has received official notification from NCQA recognizing the Family Medicine Center (faculty/resident practice site) as a Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) at a level 3 which is the highest level of recognition. This NCQA assessment and evaluation is formal notice that our Department of Family Medicine possesses the resources and/or access to resources required to implement all components of a PCMH. We are the only academic practice given this recognition in Georgia and join only 2 other practices in the State of Georgia. Our Family Medicine Practice Site makes up 39% of the total physicians practicing in NCQA recognized PCMHs. Congratulations to the Department of Family Medicine for such an outstanding accomplishment.

We also want to acknowledge the award of a new Frances Wood Wilson Foundation ($10,000) student scholarship grant to the MCG/UGA Medical Partnership. We would also like to say thank you particularly to Keith Oelke at UGA and Eileen Brandon at MCG – among others – for their key roles in securing this grant. Congratulations on the award. We also want to congratulate Dr. Sharad Purohit for his application being recommended for funding from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. What a fantastic way to start off the New Year.

Dr. Walt Moore is finalizing the federal application for the 48 additional funded resident slots. Family Medicine is currently projected requesting 15 additional slots, with Internal Medicine requesting 12 additional slots and Pediatrics 21 additional slots. The CMS application and the supporting documentation are due by January 21, 2011. We want to show our appreciation to Dr. Moore and colleagues as this is a monumental effort that – if successful – will have tremendous payoff.

Finally we are ‘in full swing’ with faculty, resident, and fellowship recruits. This is a time of great opportunity and we must strive to ‘put our best foot forward’. Accordingly, as recruitment efforts continue all across campus, there will be opportunities for you to hear from the candidates even if you are not directly involved in their interviews. Please keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to hear presentations or be in involved in a conference or class that the visiting candidate may be giving.

Oh … and by the way … we are definitely in the home stretch for our new name … only seventeen (17) days until we become Georgia Health Sciences University. Exciting days await us.

Many thanks for all you do and wishing each and every one of you a successful and productive 2011.