|Photo: Ann Johansson|
If all the University of California's healthcare campuses came together as a unified statewide system, we truly would become a force to be reckoned with.
James Cash Penney, the visionary entrepreneur who founded the J.C. Penney stores, said: "The five separate fingers are five independent units. Close them and the fist multiplies [their] strength. This is organization."
This quote perfectly captures the potential for the collective healthcare enterprises of the University of California. Individually, each campus is excellent and delivers tremendous benefit for the communities it serves. But wrap them together, like a fist, and the strength of our organization is amplified. As UC San Francisco Chancellor Dr. Sam Hawgood said last year at the colloquium of the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation: "If we truly act as a system, we would be quite a force."
I couldn't agree more. If the campuses of the UC health system act as one, our opportunities for clinical and educational innovation, collaboration on translational research, training of the next generations of healthcare providers and researchers and shaping of policy to benefit the future healthcare needs of California, and the nation, would be unique and powerfully influential.
Our six medical schools and five academic medical centers train nearly 50 percent of the medical students and medical residents in California. When you factor in its other healthcare professional schools - 17 in total systemwide, including medicine, nursing, optometry, dentistry, pharmacy, public health and veterinary medicine - UC stands as the largest health-sciences instructional program in the country.
The limitless possibilities of our unification are no better demonstrated today than by the University of California Research eXchange (UC ReX), which was created in 2011 to enhance UC collaborative research capabilities and improve quality outcomes. An extraordinary resource to emerge from UC ReX is Data Explorer, a federation of UC Health clinical data that grants secure access to more than 13.6-million patient records, allowing UC investigators to query and within a matter of seconds obtain counts of potential matching research-study cohorts.
Imagine, also, what we could do if our medical schools engaged in similar collaborations. Rather than each campus trying to be all things to all students, as a system we might aggregate individual programs on campuses where they are strongest. This would convey a tremendous advantage for our trainees, particularly residents and fellows, as they move among different campuses to experience and learn from the best among the best.
When it comes to research, education and clinical care - the essential elements of our mission - it can no longer be business as usual for an expansive academic system like the UC. With the diverse population of California harnessed through our unified health systems, we can be competitive on a national level with even the largest healthcare organizations.
THIS IS LEADERSHIP. Leadership comes in many forms. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge another type of leadership: philanthropist Marion Anderson and her transformative $100-million gift to the UCLA Anderson School of Management. This gift demonstrates how the power of shared vision can propel the mission to which all of us at UCLA are committed: advancing knowledge to benefit society.
John C. Mazziotta, MD (RES ’81, FEL ’83), PhD
Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences
Dean, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
CEO, UCLA Health