As you all know, we are currently in a period of transition. A number of faculty have recently retired and others have left or will be leaving this academic year for attractive positions at other institutions. We have had recent significant changes in our clinic staffing. Health care reform is resulting in major (and unpredictable) changes in Iowa and across the country.
At the same time, positive changes are taking place at multiple levels the will help us provide better care for our patients. We thought it would be a good time to summarize and update you on many of these changes.
1. Faculty Recruitment Our current faculty are working incredibly hard, and there is a clear need for recruitment. Aggressive efforts are underway in faculty recruitment in Medical Oncology, Gynecologic Oncology and Pediatric Oncology with a focus on specific areas of clinical need. We are looking for faculty with enthusiasm for our clinical research and teaching missions who will strengthen our Multidisciplinary Oncology Groups. A number of faculty candidates will be making their first visits shortly, and others are returning for second visits. These potential new faculty members have all been impressed with the quality of our institution, collaborative spirit, and “can do” attitude of our faculty and staff. Overall, the pool of faculty candidates is extremely strong and we are confident that we will be adding 8-12 outstanding new faculty members with a strong clinical oncology and clinical research focus beginning July 1, or soon thereafter.
2. Clinic Staffing: With support from the Hospital, we have seen significant enhancement in clinic staffing, including development of a patient centered triage team. We have replaced members of the front line team who have departed in the last year and are hiring additional staff that will function as our CCC triage team. This group will take calls regarding prescriptions, symptom management, and any other care related question or concern. The team, consisting of nurses, MAs, and clerks will move the question or concern through the system in the most efficient and effective way. As the triage team gets implemented, we will identify other ways this team may be able to benefit the center. We have hired Ben Tvedte as our front line supervisor and Julie Kurt as our Revenue Cycle Supervisor.
3. Scheduling With the hiring of Ben, as well as other front line staff, we are in the process of making significant improvements in our ability to schedule patients for the Clinic and Infusion. We expect this will markedly improve our efficiency as we triage patients, schedule them for various appointments, and move them through their visits more efficiently. Scheduling for our patients is extremely complex, very patient specific, and often includes multiple physician specialties, labs, radiology, and treatment. We are working on approaches to improving various aspects of the entire system. We know “moving through your visit” is not currently one of our strengths in the area of patient satisfaction, and are confident we can address this through enhanced staffing, improved operations and additional faculty.
4. Support from the Hospital and Departments The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has been working with the Cancer Center and Departments to ensure that support for our faculty is competitive with other academic Centers. This includes enhanced support for both current faculty and funds to recruit additional faculty as referred to above. We are very appreciative of the support the Hospital has provided. In addition, we are making excellent progress in discussing a longer term Cancer Service Line that would focus on the key departments that provide much of the cancer care at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. The goal of such a plan would be to align incentives so that everyone is working together to provide the best possible care and do so in a way that is financially viable in moving forward. These groups have never been this well aligned before which speaks well for our future clinical efforts and our ability to serve our patients.
5. EPIC Improvements – We are working closely with HCIS to identify those areas where the EPIC System can be more efficient for our faculty and staff. Dr. Abu-Hejleh is leading a committee that addresses issues with Epic and Beacon that meets on a regular basis. The Epic Access and Revenue Cycle has been postponed and will no longer be going live in May. This will provide us additional time to get our background documents completed, templates built and staff trained. Transitions are always difficult, but the opportunity to work within one system will bring several opportunities for improved communication, coordination and efficiency.
6. Clinical Research Dr. Raymond Hohl has accepted the position of Cancer Center Director at Pennsylvania State University. We soon will be initiating a search for an Associate Director for Clinical and Translational Research at The Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. This search will come with an outstanding package of support and will provide us with the opportunity to recruit a world class clinical investigator to The University of Iowa. We will be seeking input from all the faculty and staff in order to recruit the best possible candidate for this position.
Change is a challenge, but it is also a time of great opportunity. All the pieces are in place to strengthen our clinical mission and do an even better job serving our patients. We remain open to your suggestions and look forward to your input and continued commitment in the exciting times ahead.
Thanks for all you do every day…