Teaching World-Class, Low-Cost Care


harkins with residentsDell Medical School, Dell Ascension Seton Medical Center win national grant to rethink physician training around value

Dell Ascension Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas and the new Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin have won a prestigious national grant to actively engage resident physicians in ways that deliver better patient outcomes at lower costs.

The medical school teamed up with Ascension Seton’s new teaching hospital, which will succeed University Medical Center Brackenridge in spring 2017, to become one of eight national winners of the grant from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The institutions will share a grant of roughly $300,000, spread over four years, to fund efforts that improve graduate medical education training in clinical environments. ACGME is the organization responsible for accrediting residency and fellowship programs across the country.

Dell Medical School and Dell Ascension Seton will use the grant to implement a groundbreaking curriculum that trains residents to provide care centered on patients and their experience. The curriculum and related initiatives also will stress ways of improving quality and educational outcomes for students in more efficient ways. Dell Ascension Seton is operated by Seton, a part of Ascension, the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system.

“Today’s pace of change in the health care industry makes it imperative for health care organizations to deliver patient care more effectively and efficiently through enhanced patient experience with a focus on the best clinical outcomes,” said Ziad Haydar, MD, senior vice president and chief clinical officer at Ascension. “This award allows Dell Ascension Seton and Ascension to further our work by engaging physicians early in their careers, helping to develop a common culture that fosters innovation and inspires providers to look at new ways to enhance care. We are excited about the possibilities that this grant and partnership provides.”

Pioneering a new era of medical education

“This grant is a tribute to years of great work by Central Texas physicians who created graduate medical education and laid the foundation for a med school at University of Texas at Austin,” said Jonathan MacClements, MD, FAAFP, assistant dean of graduate medical education at the Dell Medical School and a Ascension Seton physician. “It’s an incredible honor for a brand new medical school to be on this list and part of this illustrious group.”

Dell Medical School is the first new medical school in decades to be created at a top-tier research university. As such, the school has a unique opportunity to create a curriculum from scratch around the needs and challenges of 21st century health care, and the school’s leaders have stressed the concept of value – better outcomes at lower costs – as a cross-cutting organizational goal.

The medical center will be the principal teaching hospital for the new medical school. The facility has been designed around the needs of both patients and graduate medical students and faculty. Hospital clinical and quality improvement staff at UMC Brackenridge have been using the latest healthcare efficiency principles to refine processes in preparation for the move to the technologically facility next spring.

Fostering agents of transformation

“The ACGME grant is a terrific shot in the arm for UMC Brackenridge doctors, nurses and performance improvement teams who’ve been championing care designed around the patient,” said Christann Vasquez, MHA, who will transition to inaugural president of Dell Ascension Seton Medical Center. “It is meticulous work, and our team approached it with gusto. That shone through in our application for the grant.” 

“We want to create doctors who see themselves as change agents – who use their practices as platforms to transform the way people seek and maintain good health,” Vasquez said. “This grant demonstrates that the things we learn in Austin can help transform care across the country, centering it on patients and helping physicians to improve health outcomes even as they lower costs.”

Chris Moriates, assistant dean for healthcare value at the Dell Medical School, will work with Dell Ascension Seton leaders to develop and implement the value curriculum, which will emphasize concepts such as quality, safety, experience and cost, while framing medical overuse as a patient safety problem. It also will stress teamwork and communication among a range of health providers and professionals to help prevent harm and the use of non-essential services.

Other institutions receiving the grant funding include Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC; Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland; University of California San Francisco School of Medicine in San Francisco; and University of Chicago Medical Center.