School of Medicine and Emory Healthcare Announce Strategic Integration

By Mary Loftus

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Leading the way: School of Medicine Dean Christian Larsen (top) and Emory Healthcare CEO John Fox (above) have announced an overarching initiative: Emory Medicine.

Jack Kearse

In an effort to increase efficiency while remaining a national model for academic health centers, School of Medicine Dean Christian Larsen 80C 84M 91MR and Emory Healthcare CEO John Fox have announced a new overarching initiative: Emory Medicine.

The School of Medicine and Emory Healthcare will work together under the Emory Medicine initiative to improve effectiveness while maximizing resources in pursuit of their shared missions of patient care, discovery, and education.

In his first annual dean’s address in November, Larsen spoke about the many challenges facing Emory and other academic medical systems.

Top among these “megatrends” driving change: an aging population with a “tidal wave” of diseases ranging from diabetes to Alzheimer’s, threatened clinical and academic revenue streams, health care waste and inefficiency, and crippling student debt (medical students average $170,000 nationally).

“We have much to be proud of this past year,” Larsen said, “including two of Emory’s hospitals ranking second and third for quality by University HealthSystem Consortium out of more than one hundred major teaching hospitals across the country, external research funding of more than $500 million for Emory as a whole, two new Institute of Medicine members [Hubert Department of Global Health Chair Carlos Del Rio and Professor of Psychiatry Kerry Ressler], and multiple centers and programs of excellence in stroke, autism, cancer, functional glycomics, and neuromodulation, among others.”

Still, the School of Medicine is facing financial challenges, making it essential to embrace new models and new approaches, Larsen says. “There must be a move away from traditional norms, structures, expectations, and models of care,” he says, “to a shared vision, integrated leadership, and business discipline.”

Reliance on NIH funding, in light of the federal sequestration, must be augmented by attracting new revenue streams from foundations, philanthropy, and industry, Larsen says; fragmented, inefficient care must be replaced by coordinated, standardized, patient-centered care; internal competition must give way to shared resources, integrated planning and budgeting, and highly effective care teams. These concepts must be “not only taught in our classrooms but modeled in our clinical care delivery,” says Larsen.

“The joy of my career has been to practice across disciplines, to work with colleagues and research teams excited about trying to make a difference, to make sure that our research comes alive,” he says. “It’s not about sustaining departments or rankings, it’s about making a difference for our patients’ futures.”

Emory Medicine was approved by the Board of Trustees in June.

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