Emory Report

February 9, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 20

Johns: Health Sciences ideally positioned for 21st century

Vice President for Health Affairs Michael Johns delivered the annual "State of the Center" address Jan. 27, recalling a year of "substantial first steps together in a monumental process to define our leadership role into the next century."

Johns described health sciences' yearlong strategic review and planning in the areas of research and clinical care as a great success. "The hospitals have done a spectacular job in coming together operationally, in reducing costs, in putting in place innovative procedures, and in creating a better and better environment for patients and their families," he said.

He identifed several challenges facing health sciences in coming years, including pressure on clinical revenues due to competitive pricing by managed care organizations and policy changes that will reduce Medicare and Medicaid payments to health care providers.

Emory Clinic's decision to restructure itself and become a fully integrated part of Emory Healthcare drew praise from Johns. "Emory Clinic's full integration into our management structure ensures that we now have the kind of operation that will allow us to match up against any and all competitors in the marketplace," he said.

Health sciences' strategic plan calls for Emory Healthcare to build on its strengths while developing as a geographically dispersed, multispecialty group practice.

In research, Johns noted the review process identified a core of excellent, highly productive faculty researchers, but he also expressed concern for the apparent lack of a critical mass in regard to investigators in several key areas and a shortage of quality laboratory space on campus. He said the research planning committees made strong recommendations for strengthening Health Sciences Center capabilities in these areas.

With the medical school about to undertake a comprehensive review of its educational programs, the nursing school nearing approval for a new doctoral program and the School of Public Health's recent revision and strengthening of its curriculum, Johns suggested health sciences is ideally positioned to develop new models of cross-disciplinary education. He urged faculty to take this as a challenge.

The research and clinical strategic plans of health sciences were approved in December by the center's board, Johns reported. This is a great step, he said, toward allowing Emory Healthcare and health sciences to upgrade key capabilities and facilities in research, education and clinical care. A few highlights include plans for construction of new laboratory research space, a new nursing school building and a new cancer center.

Johns placed particular emphasis on the important role of faculty and staff in securing the center's future success. "Everybody here must consider themselves change agents, and the challenge now is to make the necessary changes happen throughout our organization to support our goals."

-Jon Saxton

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