UAMS academic, research and clinical programs are strong, Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., said Feb. 28 during his State of the University address.
Feb. 28, 2013 | A strong and growing University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) treated more patients, received funding for more research and educated more health care professionals in the past year, said Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., but the institution faces challenges as the nation’s health care system undergoes dramatic changes.
Giving his annual State of the University presentation today, the chancellor highlighted a long list of achievements across academic, medical and research areas. He cited how each lined up with the long term Vision 2020 plan UAMS adopted in 2010.
“Our academic, research and clinical programs are strong,” Rahn said.
That strategic plan pointed to five goals the chancellor said UAMS was making progress on: creating a patient-centered health care environment that delivers efficient and effective care; educating culturally competent health care professionals with the skills to deliver care in the changing health care field; developing research and population-health strategies that improve health and health care in Arkansas; and supporting employees through enhanced training, organizational communication and development efforts.
Among the highlights from the past year were:
· Clinical programs have seen higher numbers of hospital patient discharges (up 8 percent in fiscal year 2013 year-to-date vs. the same period in fiscal year 2012), emergency department visits (up 7 percent) and outpatient visits (up 5 percent). The ninth floor of the hospital was finished out, adding 60 more patient beds while the West Little Rock Clinic opened
· Renovations are being completed to the operating rooms and Post Anesthesia Care Unit. A new electronic clinical records system is being implemented along with a major initiative focused on Patient- and Family-Centered Care.
· Academic programs at UAMS graduated more students (874 vs. 833 in 2012), and enrolled more students (2,809 in 2013). UAMS hosted more medical residents (805 in 2012-13 vs. 757 in 2008-09) — increasing the number of physicians beginning their careers in the state.
· New degree programs were developed to meet changing health care needs, including a physician assistant program, a doctor of nursing practice and a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences. The 12th Street Health and Wellness center opened, offering interdisciplinary experience for students while providing care and health screenings to patients.
· Research funding topped $127 million in the past year, but cuts to research funding at the federal level will make securing funds more challenging in the future.
The chancellor highlighted strategic imperatives for the future in UAMS academic, clinical and research areas. The goals fit the UAMS strategic plan and continue with a focus on improving health and health care in Arkansas.
However, Rahn pointed to looming changes in the way health care is delivered and paid for in the United States. Many details of these changes are uncertain but could negatively impact UAMS.
“Despite all the wonderful things happening at UAMS and the hard work of all of you, we still face an uncertain future because of many factors,” Rahn said, pointing to coming changes from the Affordable Care Act, federal sequestration funding cuts scheduled to take effect March 1 and along with anticipated cuts in Medicare hospital payments and the funding UAMS receives.
In addition, the amount of unreimbursed care has continued to grow, reaching $202 million in the past year.
The loss of some Medicare funds and the funding UAMS receives to partially offset the amount of unreimbursed care it provides leaves UAMS staring at a potential deficit of more than $35 million by 2014. As more uninsured patients get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, UAMS could recoup a lot of the loss in funding with an expansion of the state Medicaid program now being considered by the state Legislature.
“The Medicaid expansion would make up for some of the funds we are losing and I believe it’s the right thing to do,” Rahn said. “But we cannot count on new revenue to erase the projected deficits.”
Thus, UAMS is exploring a potential affiliation with St. Vincent Health. UAMS is looking to improve efficiency with the new electronic records system and other initiatives.
Savings already has been realized, he noted, through energy-saving upgrades at the campus’ two energy plants. Those savings covered bond payments for several construction projects, including the hospital ninth floor completion, operating room renovations, new space for the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and purchase of the former Ray Winder Field for additional parking.
The chancellor also challenged UAMS employees to look for ways to work more efficiently and identify wasted resources or inefficiencies that can be eliminated. “You are empowered to make these changes,” he said.
Still, UAMS is in a good position and is moving forward with plans to face the coming challenges, Rahn said. He encouraged employees to focus on UAMS mission imperatives across clinical, academic and research programs.
“We also must figure out our organizational strategy to become leaders in integrated clinical care delivery with accountability for quality, cost and a better patient experience,” Rahn said. “This will require collaboration and the creation of an integrated network.
“All aspects of our mission depend on this. It is key to our academic programs and health professions training. It is key to studying how to improve the performance of the health system, and it is essential to play a leading role in health system reform here in Arkansas and nationally.”