In his first weeks as associate vice president for UI Health Care and CEO of UI Hospitals & Clinics, Suresh Gunasekaran, MBA, has made it a priority to meet employees and volunteers at town hall sessions.
Coming to Iowa was an easy decision, Suresh says, not only for Iowa’s national reputation for excellence, but for the great people he met during his interview process.
Here are the top takeaways on Suresh’s early vision of our success, in his words:
1) We will build great programs.
“We already have great strength in many clinical programs as witnessed by our U.S. News & World Report rankings and other sources. We must build on these strengths and invest in further developing programs of excellence. To build great programs, we must recruit and retain the best faculty that we can. Simply put, the academic medical centers that recruit the best faculty invariably have the best programs. However, investments in faculty alone won’t deliver success. We must invest in other providers (APPs), clinical and support staff, as well as facilities and new technology to really make great programs a reality. Great programs combine great teamwork with great resources to impact patient lives across the inpatient and outpatient environments.
“These are exciting times with numerous opportunities, but my first job will be to work with Dr. Jackson and campus leaders to focus our resources on strategic areas. I can’t wait to get started.”
2) We will hardwire quality and patient satisfaction.
“In health care today, high quality and high patient satisfaction are requirements, not goals. They are requirements for our payers, employers, referring providers, and, of course, our patients who have more and more choice about where they go for care. These customers demand—and deserve—reliable and consistent excellence from us. We need to deliver this every time, for every patient.
“The barriers to our success in this arena are obvious: consistently high census, aging facilities, and even parking. However, I know we can do better. This will begin with each of us committing ourselves to a systematic way of thinking where we think about continuous process improvement, creating a highly collaborative culture that thinks beyond the walls of our department and unit, and finally a commitment to put others (our colleagues, our patients, and our learners) first. Together, we will find the practices that we must consistently put in place across our enterprise to achieve this excellence.”
3) We will invest in our people.
“I am well aware that for the past few years, we have had to make some difficult financial decisions to meet changing economic demands. We’ve delayed and deferred some hiring and some large capital projects. I’m happy to report that those sacrifices have helped stabilize our economic outlook. Now, we must return to investing within our enterprise; that begins with investing in our people.
“We must create a culture where we support the growth and development of our faculty both in the clinical and research realms. We must invest in our staff so that they may continuously develop their skills and be provided development opportunities within our enterprise. Finally, we must recruit the next generation of faculty and staff to Iowa City because we have built a culture that will not only challenge us to take on the biggest problems in healthcare, but also support those who are taking on these challenges.”
The question-and-answer segments of the town halls prove that no question is off the table with Suresh. He has addressed issues such as the hiring board (here until it is replaced with another measure to protect our margin), the release of capital (we’re now in a “safe zone” where we can start to invest again), and physician burnout (we must embrace technology as a solution that works for us).
Share your Iowa City and Iowa suggestions for Suresh
On a lighter note, Suresh has been asked about his time in Iowa City so far. As an Iowa transplant, Suresh welcomes ideas on what and where to explore in Iowa City and our great state. Add your comments below with your suggestions on what he and his family should see and do.