Combining Imagination with Experience

signalcenterWe are at an exciting moment in health care delivery, as a number of innovative internal initiatives begin to germinate and come to fruition. For the last few years, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has played a major role in developing UI Health Ventures’ The Signal Center for Health Innovation (formerly eHealth + eNovation). Under Dr. Pat Brophy’s leadership, they have been building and coordinating a variety of digital solutions with our Department, connecting us to every corner of the state. The Signal Center has developed a Remote Diabetes Monitoring System, an on-demand virtual care service available 24 hours a day for English as well as Spanish speakers called UIeCare, and a mulitdisciplinary Innovation Lab—led by Dr. Phil Polgreen—that is truly at the cutting edge. Under a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation grant, they have built and maintained our eConsult and Smart Referral service, which nearly every one of our divisions has integrated into their daily operations.

Most recently they have coordinated with Dr. Kevin Glenn, Dr. Ethan Kuperman, and Eric Linson in piloting a Virtual Hospitalist Program, which you can read about here. The Virtual Hospitalist Program is yet another demonstration of the imagination of our colleagues in the Division of General Internal Medicine and the Hospitalist Program. Last month they received first place in the innovations category at the regional meeting of the Society of General Internal Medicine for a poster presentation describing their work in improving early discharge rates. I am encouraged and inspired by the creativity with which our faculty tackle problems that impact ways in which we care for patients in Iowa.

The success of these and other initiatives that leverage our expertise across the region and the work of The Signal Center are important for a variety of reasons: improved patient outcomes, increased collaboration with regional medical centers, and reduced transfer rates and costs. I agree with Dr. Brophy who believes that the future of health care must incorporate digital health solutions such as these. They hold the promise not only for delivering high value health care for our patients who live across a large geographical region but also ripple through our institution to mitigate the strain on resources within our walls. I encourage each of you to think about the ways in which these resources can help you enhance your own practice.

sunejajohnsonCongratulations are due to Dr. Manish Suneja and Dr. Krista Johnson, the Educational Director for Safety and Quality, on their receipt of a grant to support novel educational initiatives for our residents. Their proposal “An Innovative Longitudinal Quality and Safety Curriculum for Residents” was accepted by the Graduate Medical Education Innovation Fund Committee, which sought new projects to foster shared scholarship and new approaches in educating our trainees. Our innovations in clinical research were similarly bolstered by a recent award. Dr. George Weiner, Director of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Dr. Aliasger Salem, Division Head of Pharmaceutics and Translational Therapeutics, were recently awarded a $600,000 grant from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to develop a form of immunotherapy using nanoparticles.

Finally, I want to add my own congratulations in response to this story from a couple weeks ago. Three members of our Division of Immunology recently took first place in a Knowledge Bowl against multiple teams from other institutions at a national conference of rheumatologists in Washington, D.C. Dr. Namrata Singh, Clinical Assistant Professor, and two of our rheumatology fellows, Drs. Sanjeev Patil and Bharat Kumar, were Team Iowa. This was the third year in a row that the University of Iowa team took first place in this contest. Although bragging rights from friendly competitions is nice, the more important conclusion is that when we put our faculty and fellows on a national stage we affirm that our Department attracts and develops the best clinical minds. Thanks to these three-time winners, whose trifecta has shown the rest of the country what Iowa’s made of.

About E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD

E. Dale Abel, MD PhD Francois M. Abboud Chair in Internal Medicine John B. Stokes III Chair in Diabetes Research Chair, Department of Internal Medicine Director, Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center Director, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism Professor of Medicine, Biochemistry and Biomedical Engineering

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