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Innovation Spotlight: UC Center For Health Quality And Innovation

Made up of five academic health centers, 17 health professional schools, and 14,000 students, UC Health is the largest health sciences education system in the United States. Through education, research and professional practice, the organization is proudly tackling health’s toughest challenges.

And the key to addressing challenges and progressing health care is innovation. Thus, in October 2010, the University of California launched the Center for Health Quality and Innovation, designed to “promote, support and nurture” the innovations of faculty and staff. The center offers fellowships, annual colloquiums, and has provided millions of dollars in grants toward initiatives aimed at improving patient care throughout California.

UC Health is leading efforts to reduce variations, reduce costs and produce better outcomes,” says Karyn DiGiorgio, executive director of the innovation center. 

These three factors make up what UC Health describes as the “triple aim” of better patient care and better population health. Implementing this approach has already resulted in great success for multiple projects funded by the center, which have produced benefits for UC Health systems, including clinical quality improvements (such as reduction in errors and readmission rates), $3.5 million financial benefits in realized annual savings, and a $4 million increase in annual revenues.

These benefits are undeniably worth the effort to achieve them, but innovators at UC Health recognize that structural transitions in health care are often daunting for providers.

Change is never easy,” explains the innovation center’s past executive director, Terry Leach. “But you can learn from the innovators before you, and they’re eager to share what they’ve learned.”

The center has thus been working with the UCSF Center for the Health Professions to provide training in leadership and change management.

In a speech given at the center’s 2013 colloquium, Leach elaborated on specific changes that must be made. “The hospital of old is not the health system of the future,” he explained, and cited delivery methods such as team-based care, telemedicine and patient group visits as vital and effective approaches for adapting to the ever-changing healthcare system. 

Embracing new practices and building upon already-excellent service and delivery to patients is all part of UC Health’s commitment to the culture of health and medicine. In the words of Medical Director of the UC Davis Health System Medical Diagnostics Outreach Laboratory, Dr. Ralph Green:

There is so much talent distributed among all of the campuses that collectively I think UC could provide leadership not only to others in academic medicine but nationally in terms of how to make health care better.