UAB Medicine News

 
Back

Our Prescription for Change

“There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Standing still is never an option for organizations that strive for excellence. In an increasingly competitive and regulated industry such as health care, it’s critical that we continue to deliver high-quality care to an expanding population while increasing operational efficiencies and attracting more financial support for translational research.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham Callahan Eye Hospital and Callahan Eye Hospital Clinics are seeing significant progress in our key areas of focus. Hospital and clinic volume has continued growing, nearly doubling since 2010. Our ambulatory operations launched a new electronic health record system on Jan. 1, 2016, and we developed plans to renovate areas of the second and sixth floors and expand our community locations to accommodate clinic growth.

Thanks to the diligent work of our research scientists, our investigational studies also enjoyed impressive growth during the past five years. In fact, 2015 marked the UAB Department of Ophthalmology’s largest increase in federal research support in its history; National Institutes of Health funding was up 48 percent from 2014. While government dollars are a critical element in our research activities, we salute the individual donors, alumni, and organizations whose generous support helps propel our mission of discovering new ways to treat and cure eye disease.

Moreover, we further refined our research recruitment efforts, pursuing scientists whose abilities coincide with our clinical strengths. This improved alignment ensures that we are targeting diseases with the greatest critical need and creates a pathway for faster translation of research from the bench to the bedside.

In 2015, we unveiled a plan to align and integrate the hospital and clinic operations, which will make the organization more flexible in responding to market changes. This will have a positive impact on funding and support for faculty and staff, as we are merging two high-growth organizations with healthy margins. In short, we are restructuring so that Callahan will not merely survive, but also thrive.

Undertaking these changes will help us stay ahead of certain external trends. We are facing a large population of elderly patients, and with that comes the diseases of aging – including eye conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts – in record numbers. To meet this demand, we must develop integrated care plans to allow us to handle tertiary referrals, surgeries, and continued care for high-acuity patients. We also need to grow a regional network to deliver more localized care in a cost- and quality-conscious manner. Our new organizational model provides capitalization for such growth.

Given recent increases in the number of insured, more patients are faced with spending their own money on highdeductible and cost-sharing coverage. An insured consumer will be a more engaged consumer, using the Internet and social media to compare outcomes, physician ratings, and prices. At the same time, the third-party reimbursement system is moving toward paying for value rather than volume. Becoming financially integrated will help us respond appropriately and reduce costs while increasing quality.

The strategies we are implementing will allow us to manage these and other trends. If we do this well, the process will be transparent to patients, and we will be able to sustain our high standard of care – no matter what challenges arise.