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VUMC as a Separate Nonprofit Entity Allows for Growth

Posted by on Friday, June 26, 2015 in From the Dean, Summer 2015 .

Dean BalserThe changes we are experiencing in health care are the most transformational in America’s history. No other sector has as large an impact on the U.S. economy as health care, which now consumes almost 20 percent of our Gross Domestic Product. Among many factors driving epic change is the rising cost of care. As much as one-third of the approximately $3 trillion in U.S. annual expense on health care is judged by nearly all experts to be waste—having no impact on quality of life or health. In this environment of unsustainable cost and huge variation in quality, the entire industry is consolidating with the most capable health care systems expanding across broader populations and regions to impact the quality and cost of care.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) finds itself in an exceptionally strong position as these events unfold. We are the worldwide university leader in development and innovation of health information technology, a fundamental pillar of nearly all improvement efforts in health care quality and cost variation. Consumer surveys indicate that Vanderbilt has built an exceptional reputation for quality and personalized care, based on the most compelling evidence, not only locally, but also across the country. These capabilities are sustained and nourished by a vibrant and growing discovery enterprise, and increasingly well-recognized educational leadership.

To help propel what VUMC has to offer beyond our Nashville campus, the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network (VHAN) has grown to 44 hospitals in five states, and is widely acclaimed as one of the fastest-growing health affiliate networks in the U.S. To further this progress, in November 2014, Vanderbilt University announced plans to embark on a process to re-configure VUMC to become a not-for-profit entity that will be financially distinct from the University.

This will give VUMC greater flexibility to adapt to health care’s rapidly changing financial environment. The University and VUMC will remain tightly woven by mission and the Vanderbilt name. At the same time, VUMC will gain greater access to capital markets, allowing us to further invest in our people, programs and facilities. Our efforts in research and education continue to excel while the demand for VUMC’s clinical services has never been higher. Our hospitals and clinics operate at capacity year-round. Through restructuring we will be better positioned to invest in our facilities and programs on the campus, while also expanding our impact through growing regional affiliates and partnerships in VHAN.

Having studied the vast array of organizational relationships of academic medical centers across the U.S., it is clear to me that we are afforded an opportunity to set the standard for how great universities and medical centers can flourish together in the future. We will maintain seamless integration with the University in all present and future academic missions, programs and activities, including faculty appointments, teaching, research and philanthropic support. Above all, VUMC will continue to nurture and build upon the historic Vanderbilt culture of community, collegiality and warmth that distinguishes us from our peers.

We are blazing a path forward—evolving in a new environment, in order to sustain and grow what is historic and fundamental to our Vanderbilt mission: leadership in discovery, education and health care.


Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D.

Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs

Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine