As UC Health University of Cincinnati Physicians seeks to rebuild itself from within, efficiency and customer service will be crucial to success.
That’s the view of Myles Pensak, MD, chief executive officer of UC Physicians and senior associate dean for clinical programs at the UC College of Medicine, who addressed a crowd of about 150 in the Medical Sciences Building’s Kresge Auditorium Monday, April 15.
Pensak’s presentation, "Deconstructing Babel: Evolution of the CoM Clinical Enterprise,” was the fourth in a series of presentations by the college’s senior associate deans. They follow a Nov. 8, 2012, presentation by Thomas Boat, MD, dean of the College of Medicine and UC vice president for health affairs, in which he discussed progress made at College of Medicine since he presented his vision for the college in October 2011.
UC Physicians is the practice group for clinical faculty members at the UC College of Medicine, with 17 clinical departments and approximately 700 medical providers. Pensak highlighted its successes of the past year, including increased inpatient and outpatient visits. Those numbers are projected to continue to rise, Pensak said, supported by additional caregivers and new centers and facilities. But success won’t happen on its own, he emphasized.
"The key for our continued growth is going to be how we distinguish ourselves, how we comport ourselves as an organization,” he said. "Are we patient-centric? Do we provide the very best quality care, by whatever metrics you choose to measure quality?”
Deconstruction in the architectural sense, Pensak said, refers to rebuilding from within. "It challenges, it puts new stresses on systems, but it does so in such a way that it really changes both the visual and the paradigm with which one works.”
In the past five years, multiple clinical practice organizations were merged into a single nonprofit tax-exempt organization as part of the UC Physicians Re-Engineering Project. Fundamental change has continued since Pensak’s appointment as UC Physicians’ CEO in August 2011, including implementation of a systemwide approach for service, efficiency and patient-focused care.
"In terms of distinguishing our practices, no matter how good the endpoint care is, none of that matters if the front-end service is lousy—if the customer service is not what we would all expect.
"Ultimately, it’s about personal accountability. It begins with doing the right thing, and demanding that the people around you do the right thing.”
Among the other highlights of the presentation:
• New programs: Pensak mentioned several new programs, including the UC Health Women’s Center and the Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness on the West Chester campus.
• Horizontal integration: Centers and programs are horizontally integrated, Pensak said, meaning they cover all disciplines and reach across department lines. Examples include the Pancreatic Disease Center, the Lung Cancer Screening Program and Executive Health. "The days of vertical integration are over,” Pensak said. "Programs that show multiple physicians, multiple scientists and multiple opportunities across colleges, departments and divisions are vitally important.”
• Expansion: Pensak said opportunities for expansion are being explored, particularly to Cincinnati’s west side. There will also be growth just off the Interstate 75 corridor in Northern Kentucky, starting with a professional building and possibly expanding to an ambulatory surgical center.
• Patient access: A major focus for UCP is patient access, Pensak said, a problem driven by lack of caregivers in key specialties such as dermatology, neurology and endocrinology. Long delays for an appointment with a specialist are unacceptable, he said, and UC Physicians has set a systemwide goal of 14 days from patient’s first call to appointment date. Additional ancillary medical providers such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants will help fill the gap between demand and supply of medical providers.
Pensak’s slides and the complete video from his talk can be viewed in the Dean’s Corner on med.uc.edu.