What does it mean to be an innovator?
Often, in our academic world, it is measured by research funding for a specific disease, organ system, or cellular process. Insurers and the government are willing to pay hundreds of billions of dollars for new equipment and complex procedures. And yet patients are going to hospitals for preventable problems, patients are harmed, costs are skyrocketing, and physicians are overwhelmed. The result is a system which produces poor results but costs vastly more than any other nation.
Our mission is to find another way. The potential impact of research that changes how we practice medicine is tremendous. This is a key goal, along with training the students, residents and fellows who will lead these critical changes. The real innovation we need is developing, implementing, evaluating and disseminating new more effective and efficient ways of caring for patients.
Changing health care is not a spectator sport. We are committed to leading the development of new systems for patients and communities. Last year, we successfully launched programs that brought care to patients’ homes, promoted employee wellness with onsite care and strengthened embedded care management in primary care. For all of your ideas and support, thank you—we know that it takes a village to bring meaningful change!
Our ambitious goal is to initiate a major redesign of the Family Medicine Center. As we look to the future, the new health system must depend on robust medical homes that serve as nodes of care, reaching into homes and across the community. The new “medical home” must be open 7 days a week to prevent unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalization, while providing a broad array of team-based services. They must also support the training of the new kinds of health workers needed —not only full scope family physicians but also the care managers, health coaches, therapists and pharmacists necessary to deliver the right kind of care. This will require a new kind of architecture. We have started a process of “lean design” to develop the plans.
Warren Newton, MD MPH
William B. Aycock Professor and Chair
UNC Family Medicine