UC System Launches New Health Center

The University of California debuted a $5 million initiative to improve health care on Monday,  Oct. 25.

This new Center for Health Quality and Innovation will support the UC health campuses, which includes the UC system’s five academic medical centers, 10 hospitals and 16 health professional schools.

Initial funding comes from the five UC medical centers — at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCSD, UCLA and UC San Francisco — that will each donate $1 million. These funds are generated by the California Hospital Fee Program,. The program imposes a fee on California hospitals to supplement Medi-Cal payments, direct grants to hospitals and support coverage for children.

The center is intended to complement rather than compete with existing health care projects, such as UCSD’s “San Diego Safety Net Health Information Exchange” project, which allows physicians to make follow-up appointments for patients who do not have a physician. It cited as one of the individual campus projects that will be integrated into the center.

“This new center is in perfect alignment with our vision for [the] UC San Diego Health system as one of the most innovative health systems in the world,” UCSD Health System CEO Tom Jackiewicz said.

The center will be led by an executive director and a board consisting of the six UC medical school deans, five UC medical center CEOs and UC Senior Vice President for Health Services John Stobo.

UCOP Manager of Health Policy Terry Leach was appointed interim executive director of the project. Leach may become permanent executive director if the search process finds her most suitable.

“It’s possible that students could be involved as interns in innovation center projects,” Leach said. “Also, we intend to incorporate work force concerns in some or all of the projects, which may include recruitment of individuals, for example, interested in serving underserved communities. Depending on the project, this may involve working with undergraduate students to help serve as liaisons to underrepresented communities.”

According to Leach, the center was first proposed in October 2009 when administrators saw the federal health care reform’s effect on the UC Health system.

“UC Health, which supported federal health reform, recognizes that the status quo is no
longer sustainable,” Leach said.

In February of this year, UC Health administrators met to discuss health care reform and its impact on the University of California system. At the meeting, medical center and medical school leadership expressed support for creating a health innovation center.