Leaders From IU Health and U of I Hospital Define "Academic Medical Centers"

At the Becker's Hospital Review Annual Meeting in Chicago on May 10, Eric Williams, MD, executive vice president of academic affairs and director of the cardiovascular service line at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis, and Bryan Becker, MD, associate vice president of hospital operations and CEO of University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago, discussed challenges and trends facing academic medical centers. The session was moderated by Scott Becker, JD, CPA, publisher of Becker's Hospital Review.

Here is an excerpt from the panel discussion, edited for clarity.

Scott Becker: How do you view your core competition? Are you competing with other health systems in the area? Or are you competing with other medical schools? How do you define yourselves?

Dr. Bryan Becker:
Being predominantly a safety-net hospital, we've redefined our mission over the past year or two. Rather than stare down the competition, we're focused on, 'What's our blue ocean? Where is our predominant patient base? How do we reinforce that and deliver something novel to that?" Our focus on sustainability is [on finding the] magic number of uniques we need to have over the next few years [to transition] through fee-for-service to fee-for-value?

Dr. Eric Williams: Even though we're large, we're in a very competitive market. There are three heart hospitals in Indianapolis. We're competing with St. Vincent Indianapolis and Franciscan St. Francis Health-Indianapolis. All are large systems and all have outreach across the state. Rather than try to benchmark for a given program, our strategy is to compare who is best in the country, and that's the marketing strategy for referring physicians to increase patient flow.

SB: How do you remain big but also somewhat elite as a medical school?

Dr. Williams: There is some challenge with the elite characterization. We have a lot of marketing and focus group information demonstrating that many people have the same issue with our system as my wife does. If you ask my wife, if any of her friends call, she will not allow anyone to be evaluated except at IU. But my wife will not come to IU for common care. I think an exceptional program must be coupled with access and service.

Dr. Becker: Elite is an attractor. I think the definition of "elite" may be, five years from now, different from what we've traditionally viewed it as. Programs that are individually distinguishable in the city are very complex to define. We have some excellent programs, but we may not be that different from other academic medical centers. If we develop competencies around our Federally Qualified Health Center set-up, we're working on a new definition of elite.

More Articles on Academic Medical Centers:

Integration without Merger: New Alignment Structure Helps Academic Medical Centers Adapt to Widespread Change
Academic Hospital Finances Today: Q&A With Tufts Medical Center CFO C. Okey Agba
Learning From University of Louisville Hospital's Partnership Search

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