Improving patients’ health while reducing costs has become a mantra in health care, but this requires new ways of thinking about patients’ medical needs and delivering care more efficiently. At the same time, the pace of scientific discovery continues to accelerate, particularly in understanding how genes, behaviors and environments affect one’s health. These developments are propelling health care toward a future of “personalized health,” in which the delivery of care increasingly will be tailored to better meet an individual’s needs.
In this context, BJC HealthCare and Washington University School of Medicine are partnering to launch the Health Systems Innovation Lab, an effort aimed at developing innovative ways to deliver care and improve people’s health. Cross-disciplinary in nature, the lab will bring together clinicians, patients, researchers, public health experts and private industry to find solutions to problems that prevent patients from receiving optimal care.
BJC HealthCare will provide $20 million over the next 10 years to support the lab.
Among the lab’s goals are investigating how new technology can best be used, and determining how to streamline care to make it more efficient.
“We are excited to begin this bold initiative to find solutions to real-world health-care problems and improve care for patients,” said Clay Dunagan, MD, senior vice president and chief clinical officer of BJC HealthCare. “The Health Systems Innovation Lab is going to be a great asset in helping us identify innovative care approaches and integrating them across BJC HealthCare hospitals and Washington University clinics, the broader St. Louis community and beyond.”
The lab’s 14-member governing board will be chaired by David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of Washington University School of Medicine, and by Steve Lipstein, CEO of BJC HealthCare.
Washington University and BJC HealthCare have chosen Thomas M. Maddox, MD, to lead the lab. A search committee selected Maddox because of his background as the national director for the Veterans Affairs Health System’s Clinical Assessment, Reporting and Tracking Cardiac Quality Program, which oversees quality, safety and value for all 79 cardiac catheterization laboratories in the VA health-care system, and his research expertise in cardiology.
Maddox began his new position June 1.
“We are thrilled to welcome Tom Maddox in this position,” said Bradley Evanoff, MD, director of the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences and the Richard A. and Elizabeth Henby Sutter Professor of Occupational Industrial and Environmental Medicine at the School of Medicine. “We believe he has the knowledge, leadership skills and passion for innovation to help all campus and health-system partners work together to identify, develop and implement clinical changes that will benefit patients.”
Maddox said he is looking forward to leading the lab. “Health care is in the midst of a remarkable and rapid transformation,” he said. “The Health Systems Innovation Lab is in a unique position to capitalize on this by leveraging the resources of BJC HealthCare and the intellectual talent of Washington University to provide truly innovative health and health-care solutions that benefit patients and the greater St. Louis community.”
The lab’s partners will include the BJC HealthCare Center for Clinical Excellence and Washington University’s Center for Biomedical Informatics, the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences, and the Institute for Public Health.
William Powderly, MD, the Dr. J. William Campbell Professor of Medicine at the School of Medicine and the Larry J. Shapiro Director of the Institute for Public Health, said the institute looks forward to a close partnership with the new lab. “This effort is important because innovation in the hospital and outpatient settings can lead to overall improvement in our region’s population health, particularly among our most vulnerable communities with high burdens of chronic disease.”
Although he will devote most of his time and energy to the lab, Maddox also will serve as a professor of medicine in the Cardiovascular Division at the School of Medicine and will see patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
He earned a medical degree from Emory University School of Medicine, a master’s degree from the Harvard University School of Public Health and a bachelor’s degree cum laude in economics and history from Rice University.
In addition to serving as national director of the VA Clinical Assessment, Reporting, and Tracking Cardiac Quality Program, Maddox most recently has served as an associate professor of cardiology at the University of Colorado, Denver, with a clinical appointment as a cardiologist for the Veterans Affairs (VA) Eastern Colorado Health System.
His research has focused on “learning health-care systems” that use real-time clinical data to shape cardiology clinical practice and research. He has authored more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and received multiple grants to study the best strategies to prevent and reduce cardiac risk among patients with coronary artery disease.
“As we take on this new initiative, we need to understand how the multiple characteristics of a health system interact, and how new technologies, knowledge and procedures can best be introduced to improve the health and care of patients,” Evanoff said. “This is a wonderful opportunity that will engage WU researchers and BJC staff toward an important goal.”