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Carmona lauds ASU-Mayo partnership as leader in future of health care delivery

October 09, 2013

Dr. Richard H. Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the United States, set the tone early at the ASU Town Hall on the Future of Health Care Delivery, saying the longstanding partnership between Arizona State University and Mayo Clinic “will bring about the changes desperately needed in health care delivery” and that the collaboration is “disruptive in a good way.”

Carmona, who served as U.S. Surgeon General from 2002-2006, moderated the discussion, which featured ASU President Michael M. Crow and Mayo Clinic vice president and CEO in Arizona Wyatt W. Decker. Introductory remarks were shared by Mayo Clinic radiation oncologist Dr. Michele Halyard and Dr. Keith D. Lindor, executive vice provost and dean of the College of Health Solutions. More than 300 people attended the event at the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix.

“Our nation is in a crisis today,” Carmona told the audience. “Our current system of health care delivery is unsustainable and is drowning in debt. Many people have tried to do something about this, but it’s always partisan.

“We need ASU and Mayo to come forward in a nonpartisan way to find solutions to the problems the system faces; the private sector is going to point the way to improvements and success,” Carmona added. “We have leaders here in Michael Crow and Wyatt Decker; real thought leaders who have been talking about this, who are now ready to do something about this. They are saying ‘Let’s do something meaningful together.’ Who better than real thought leaders in two great institutions to put solutions together in an unbiased, apolitical way to carve this critical path together?”

While exploring the future of health care delivery, the town hall also focused on some of the successes that have already resulted from the ASU-Mayo Clinic partnership. ASU and Mayo have established a variety of successful programmatic collaborations since 2003, including a joint nursing education program, joint research projects and faculty appointments, and dual degree programs. The success of the ASU-Mayo collaboration led to a broader partnership in 2011 that today includes health care, medical research and education. ASU’s new School for the Science of Health Care Delivery is the first of its kind in the U.S. Students attending the Mayo Medical School when it opens in Scottsdale, Ariz. will earn both a medical degree from Mayo and a master's degree in the science of health care delivery from ASU, as the program will be embedded in the medical degree curriculum.

Crow, who became ASU’s 16th president in 2002 and within a year forged a working partnership with Mayo, said that education and the way teachers are taught and prepared at ASU and at universities across the country will make a difference in the future of health care delivery.

“We’ve been training for the present, not the future,” Crow noted. “We’re not getting the kinds of outcomes our society needs. We need practical, deliverable solutions that can be measured against the ideal.

“What we are doing is taking the intellectual knowledge we have, and we are creating a new model, a new kind of person who thinks differently and who brings the new ideas – the solutions – to health care,” Crow added. “Through 10 years of partnership with Mayo, we’re re-engineering what we as teacher-scientists do, so we can be of more service to physician-scientists.”

Carmona noted that as science continues to move forward, replicating the current health care system is a no-win situation. Decker, who has served Mayo Clinic for 16 years as a consultant and professor of emergency medicine, echoed the former surgeon general.

“At one time in this country, train companies saw themselves as train companies,” Decker said. “To survive, and to keep up with changing technologies and changing demands, train companies began seeing themselves as transportation companies.

“We need to find ways to be more innovative, to care for patients in ways that are unthought-of today, and we need to lower costs while we do it,” Decker added. “The solutions aren’t going to come out of Washington, and they’re not going to be some mass solution; the changes are going to come from individuals and institutions – like Mayo and ASU – that think they can change things. At Mayo, we refer to our relationship with ASU as a ‘privileged partnership.’ We are breaking down barriers and the great thing about that is creating new curriculum. With Mayo and ASU, and with involved citizens, we can make health care better and grow the Arizona economy, too.”

Crow likened the challenge of improving health care delivery to steering a kayak down a rapidly moving river.

“What we are saying is that the institutional structures we are a part of – education and health care – aren’t getting it right, which doesn’t make you very popular to say something like that,” Crow said. “We are trying to advance the movement of the pack, and it is like moving through rapids in a kayak – we want to get down that river, and we want to do it the right way.

“It used to be we would develop all these technologies and just throw them over the wall,” Crow added. “Now, this is the birthing stage of a new approach, a new way of attacking this thing called lifespan and lifespan success, which is different from the way it's been approached in the past. We think of it now not as lifespan but as healthspan.”

Crow said the community can advance the future of health care delivery, noting that it’s time to stop relying on government to fix the system.

“The shocking thing for me sometimes is when people say, the government is supposed to fix all this, or the government is supposed to invest in all that,” Crow said. “That's actually half the problem – that people have relied for too long and in too many ways on those kinds of solutions. The only way for this initiative to be successful is for the community to birth something. How about birthing the solutions, like a new kind of medical school, like a new kind of university, that are emergent from the kind of dynamic forces that are represented here in Arizona, and maybe even uniquely represented here in Arizona, because we can get these kinds of things done.

“And so our hope is, my hope is, that increasingly over time, the community will come to embrace the emergence of the solutions to many of these seemingly intractable problems, like health care, in ways where they see that the actual institutions in their midst are deriving these solutions,” Crow continued. “This is a way (the public) can plug into deriving solutions. So the community, in my view, needs to think about ways it can participate and help own these solutions; then you'll get a broader range of positive outcomes as a function of that.”