University trustees approve health care reorganization plan

UI Health exterior

Under the reorganization plan, the vice president would be replaced by a vice chancellor for health affairs who reports to the UIC chancellor.
Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services (click on image for larger size)

The framework for a reorganization plan that would align the University of Illinois Hospital, clinics and health science colleges at the Chicago campus under a single umbrella was approved Thursday by the university’s Board of Trustees.

The Chicago hospital and clinics now operate independently from academic units at UIC, which include the nation’s largest medical school.

Patient care operations are administered by a university-level vice president for health affairs, while college deans report to the UIC provost.

Under the new organizational structure, the vice president’s position would be eliminated and replaced by a vice chancellor for health affairs on the Chicago campus, who would oversee all clinical and academic programs and report to the UIC chancellor.

Chancellors at each of the three U of I campuses report, in turn, to the university’s president. The president will continue to have a role in health affairs leadership and oversight.

During Thursday’s meeting, the board endorsed the concept for the realignment and asked University President Robert Easter to develop implementation plans that address details such as lines of authority, job descriptions and other organizational issues.

Those plans are expected to go to the board no later than its March 6 meeting.

Easter recommended the new organizational structure after months of study that included discussions among administrators, faculty and staff; a day-long board retreat that brought in experts from around the country; and input from the Huron Group, a global management consulting company.

Easter said the reorganization would create a unified health care enterprise that integrates faculty research and expertise into clinical care.

UIC is one of the few universities in the nation with the full complement of health science colleges, he said, and the proposed reorganization would create opportunities for sustained collaborations among the colleges that would foster multidisciplinary programs.

“Our goal, as it has always been, is to advance health care education and foster innovation that will better serve the needs of our citizens,” he said.

“This reorganization reaffirms our commitment, and creates a framework to establish high goals for achievement that would position the health enterprise at UIC to be a leader among its peers.”

Easter said the new alignment would also make the university’s health care enterprise more nimble amid rapid changes in the nation’s health care landscape, from new medical technologies and insurance regulations to the approaching implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

“A single executive would maximize the speed with which we can address new issues as they surface and move forward,” he said.

The new vice chancellor for health affairs would oversee a hospital and clinics that receive more than 400,000 patients visits a year, along with seven academic units — the colleges of Applied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Social Work and the School of Public Health — and regional campuses of those units.

The university’s hospital, clinics and health-related academic units comprise more than 60 percent of UIC’s $2 billion budget.

The new vice chancellor would be responsible for working with clinical and academic staff to develop a comprehensive health care strategy for the University, establishing goals for each unit and working with administrators to implement them.

The vice chancellor also would work to facilitate opportunities for collaboration with other units at UIC and on the university’s campuses in Urbana-Champaign and Springfield.

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