The Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. In 1989, when I was the deputy assistant for Domestic Policy and director of the White House Office of Policy Development, I spoke, along with others, at the department’s inaugural celebration.
Joseph Califano, Jr., LLB, then Senior Partner of Dewey Ballantine, Bushby, Palmer, and Wood and I gave a talk about “Health Care in the ’90s: The Impending Revolution.” The Department recently uploaded video of this talk to their website, which you can view here.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently released a new infographic that demonstrates how the country’s medical schools and teaching hospitals work to improve patient care. The graphic can be downloaded and viewed here.
The graphic demonstrates how vital medical schools and teaching hospitals are to our country’s health care system. For instance, the nation’s nearly 400 major teaching hospitals train 80,000 residents in primary care and specialty areas each year. Nearly half of all external research funded by the National Institutes of Health is conducted at medical schools. And, AAMC teaching hospitals provide nearly 40 percent of hospital charity care.
UNC Health Care’s status as a teaching hospital allows us to better train the next generation of doctors and better serve the patients we see each day. We are proud to be a part of a nationwide effort to improve care and better train medical students.
Bill Friday was a giant in American higher education and in North Carolina public life. And as we celebrate the 219th anniversary of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we remember his countless contributions to the state and the University.
In his three decades of service to the University, he guided the rapid expansion of the system – giving North Carolina a greater ability to provide its students with higher education opportunities.
Dr. Friday also was a friend of the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health Care, and encouraged expanded research and clinical experiences for our students. Because of his dedication to higher education, our medical school continues to expand, allowing us to serve more communities across the state.
Dr. Friday’s contributions to North Carolina are immeasurable and will continue to be felt for generations to come. The state of North Carolina and the University of North Carolina are much the better because of his sustained leadership.
I was pleased to see the Raleigh News & Observer’s recent coverage of the UNC Family Medicine’s medical training program at Prospect Hill Community Health Center in Caswell County. In the story, Dr. Evan Ashkin points out that the average physician to patient ratio in North Carolina is low – nine physicians per 10,000 patients. This ratio becomes even more skewed in rural and economically vulnerable areas.
The UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health Care are working together to mitigate the health care challenges in the rural areas of our state. One of the ways we do this is by providing residents with opportunities to train in underserved areas across North Carolina – like Prospect Hill.
North Carolina is expected to grow by four million people in the next 18 years, and our state’s health care challenges will grow along with it. Coupled with this growth is an aging physician population. Within 20 years, our state will have 25 percent fewer primary care physicians than we need – particularly in rural areas.
By encouraging residents to train in locations like Prospect Hill, the School hopes to better serve patients in communities that need more physicians and increased access to care. This is an important part of our mission, and I look forward to continuing this commitment to the people of North Carolina.
I am pleased to announce that I recently joined the Medicare NewsGroup Advisory Board. Medicare NewsGroup is an independent resource for Medicare news, policy and legislation. Medicare NewsGroup provides journalists with information and materials to help them produce more accurate and comprehensive stories about Medicare.
In my role on the Advisory Board, I will work with three well-respected health care experts to inform the media on Medicare reform. Other members of the Board include Stuart H. Altman, Ph.D., Robert A. Berenson, M.D., and Gail R. Wilensky, Ph.D., all of whom are well versed on Medicare policy and implementation. You can learn more about their background and experience here.
It is my hope that this Advisory Board will help journalists communicate more effectively about a complex program that impacts so many people in our country. I look forward to working with this group to provide accurate and easy-to-understand information about Medicare for journalists to share with their readers.
Last evening I got to be in the auditorium at the first 2012 Presidential Debate, in Denver.
For someone like me who has long been interested in public affairs, it was a great experience. Being in the hall is much different than watching on TV.
I felt like I was an eye-witness to history.
I am pleased to announce that UNC Health Care recently entered into a strategic partnership with High Point Regional Health System. Once our contract is finalized, High Point Regional will be fully integrated into the UNC Health Care System.
I believe that patients in Guilford County and surrounding areas will greatly benefit from this partnership. Our institutions will collaborate to provide patients with the health care resources they need, delivered by the local hospitals and doctors they trust.
Employees of High Point Regional Health System will remain in their current positions, but will now have access to UNC’s managerial expertise and services and engage in a collaborative relationship on complicated cases, when necessary. Our arrangement will not result in any layoffs or changes in pay rates or benefits of current employees.
This new relationship with High Point Regional will resemble UNC’s successful 12-year partnership with Rex Healthcare in Raleigh. UNC provides Rex with operational guidance and access to UNC physicians, research, technology and facilities – all while Rex maintains strong local governance and community involvement.
The partnership between UNC and Rex has strengthened both institutions over the years, and I anticipate this will be the same with High Point Regional. I look forward to working closely with all at High Point Regional and to adding our expertise and experience to their strong line of services.
Jason Burke, managing director & chief strategist for the SAS Center for Health Analytics & Insights, recently toured Carolina Advanced Health (CAH), a collaborative venture between UNC Health Care and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. The practice brings together a comprehensive and coordinated team of primary care physicians and other health care providers, including professionals trained in internal medicine, family medicine, behavioral health, nutrition, medication management, laboratory services and care management. Burke’s blog post focuses on how the combination of the team and technology at CAH make it an innovative model for care. You can read his post here.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently released its 2011 State Snapshots, which provide state-level performance overviews on treating cancer, diabetes, maternal and child disorders, heart disease and other diagnoses. According to the data, North Carolina performs well in areas like preventative care and acute care. Quality of hospital care also remains on track with national averages. In clinical areas, our state has improved respiratory disease and cancer care since baseline year data was collected. You can view North Carolina’s full state snapshot here.
I am proud of North Carolina’s performance in these categories and I commend the work of our state’s providers. However, there is still much to be done to improve the quality of and access to care across our state. For instance, we lag behind other states in diabetes and heart disease measures. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 30 percent of North Carolinians were considered obese in 2010 – making them more susceptible to diabetes and heart disease. As the needs of our state increase, the care we provide must change to meet the growing demand for services.
At UNC Health Care, we are working with other organizations and providers across the state to meet the growing demand for services and care. By improving access to quality public health services, training the next generation of physicians and conducting research, we hope to mitigate the challenges our state continues to face. The AHRQ snapshots provide a helpful benchmark for improvement as we move forward.
One critical tenet of UNC Health Care’s mission is ensuring that patients have access to excellent and affordable care. The Supreme Court’s action today will continue to help make that possible, as the almost one in five North Carolinians who do not have health care insurance will now have coverage. Evidence clearly shows that those who do not have insurance are less healthy than those who do. I am hopeful this decision will lead to a healthier and more productive North Carolina.
Health care providers across the nation, including UNC Health Care, have been reacting to the realities in health care through industry consolidation, partnerships among hospitals, physicians and other health professionals and an increased emphasis on shared responsibility for improving health outcomes and reducing costs.