Clinical excellence few can match

Being surrounded by top professionals delivering excellence on a regular basis can start to skew one’s perspective. The kind of excellence in clinical care we deliver to our patients, whether in outpatient clinics or on the wards, begins to feel common from familiarity, when it is anything but. It is not overstating the case that our clinicians at University of Iowa Health Care are among the very best at healing Iowans. There are many reasons behind this—training, recruitment, systems optimization, administrative support—but we do not say this simple fact enough. Perhaps there is a Midwestern culture, as some have said, that frowns on what could be seen as improper bragging, but facts are facts. You are very good at what you do, things that no one else in this state can do, whether it is in endoscopy, or managing heart failure, cardiomyopathy, or polycystic kidney disease, or successfully diagnosing an infectious disease or something on our complex disease service, all of it happens at an elite level of skill and knowledge. Whether it is un-Midwestern or not, I have the honor of praising you on a regular basis.

Like all of you, I value data. There are countless ways of measuring our success, each with its own merits and drawbacks. The Press-Ganey survey of patients after their interactions with us is not without its flaws like any survey, but it has the benefit of a large n and a consistency over time, which results in interesting and rich information. Their most recent report of how our patients responded to their “Care Provider” section is encouraging. Those questions include how patients perceive our concern for them, our involvement of them in making decisions, and our educational skills. This year, I am pleased to report that 60 of our clinicians scored among the top 10% in the United States. Of the thousands of care providers in this country, 60 of that one-tenth are in our department, representing each of our divisions. There are many elements to delivering good care, but helping our patients feel better is more than just correcting an atrial fibrillation or finally getting a hemoglobin measure to a safer level. They feel better when they feel like we are on their team and when we can explain to them what is happening with their own health in ways they can understand. You 60 in the top 10% are the best at this, well done!

From the individual measure of excellence to a more macro one comes our management of tens of thousands of patients every month. And our commitment to improving access in our busy clinics, finding ways to discharge our inpatients when they are safe to leave, or making the documentation of their care easier. A recent story in The Loop earlier this week detailed the transformation of our adult cath lab in the Heart and Vascular Center. That team’s response to unprecedented volumes has been careful, methodical, and their improvements durable. Similarly, a news story on KCRG-TV interviewed Dr. Jeydith Gutierrez about the influx of $1.5M to fund an expansion of the Iowa City VA Health System’s telehospitalist services to VA medical centers nationwide. Until recently they had only offered this service designed to help inpatient veterans stay closer to home to a few centers in the Midwest. Now, rural veterans coast to coast can benefit from our VA hospitalists’ expertise.

Finally, whether you are excelling solely in the clinic or balancing clinical activities with education and research, we all recognize that you could use a hand. We continue to refine our recruitment practices, both in the process as well as in our advertising. We all know what a lovely community the Iowa City area is, but until you see it for yourself, there are many misconceptions that might persist beyond our borders. We wanted to create a one-stop shop that could answer most of someone’s concerns and placed a link to it prominently on our website. Feel free to send this link and the accompanying video to anyone you think needs to learn more about just how easy and rewarding life is in Iowa City.

About Isabella Grumbach, MD, PhD

Isabella Grumbach, MD, PhD; Interim Chair and DEO, Department of Internal Medicine; Kate Daum Endowed Professor; Professor of Medicine – Cardiovascular Medicine; Professor of Radiation Oncology

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