Task forces say AHC focus key

Nina Petersen-Perlman

TEditor’s Note: This is the last of a two-part series detailing the latest round of University realignment task force recommendations.

1he Academic Health Center needs more attention if the University wants to succeed in its goal of becoming a top-three public research university, according to recent task force recommendations.

Four Academic Health Center task forces and a metrics and measurement task force released their preliminary recommendations Friday. A monthlong public commentary period is scheduled to last until April 30, and final recommendations are due May 5.

The Academic Health Center task forces’ recommendations focused on streamlining the center’s management and investing in new technology.

The metrics and measurements task force listed ways to quantify when the University will have reached its “top three” goal.

Academic Health Center

The Academic Health Center’s clinical sciences enterprise, precinct plan, health professional workforce and knowledge management technology task forces examined the center’s weaknesses and strengths and recommended ways for it to become one of the nation’s best.

Terry Bock, a precinct plan co-chairman and an Academic Health Center associate vice president, said investments in the Academic Health Center were crucial because “70 percent of the state’s health care professionals come from the University.”

The precinct plan recommendations would have the University identify spaces where the Center could grow in the next couple of decades.

Bordered by the Mississippi River and several campus buildings, the four-block Academic Health Center is limited when it comes to growth, Bock said. Officials are looking at areas on the University’s St. Paul, Duluth and Rochester campuses for places to expand.

The clinical sciences enterprise task force looked at developing and integrating the educational programs that prepare students for health care careers, said Bobbi Daniels, a task force co-chairwoman and chief medical officer of University Physicians.

“Developing a culture where (integration) is valued, where faculty are recognized for their contributions to clinical care, will be very important for the schools of (Academic Health Center) to achieve their goals,” Daniels said.

The knowledge management technology task force talked more about the skills people needed to use technology than the Academic Health Center’s technology needs, said Linda Watson, a task force member and director of the health sciences library.

“The campus does have a lot of technology, but we’re not convinced it’s all being used in an efficient way,” Watson said. “We’re hoping to create a vision of how people can use the technology in an integrative fashion.”

The health professional workforce task force recommended shifting to community-based education partnerships and embracing “interprofessional” education, according to the task forces’ report.

Metrics and measurement

The metrics and measurement task force was charged with finding a system to measure the University against its peers.

Task force member Terry Roe, who is also a professor in the applied economics department, said people wonder how they possibly could measure an entity as complicated as the University.

“What we’re trying to do is get those key indicators that serve two purposes,” Roe said. “We have to show the productivity and contributions of a very complex University and second, among those indicators, they have to be the same ones other institutions use so an outside observer can compare us to them.”

The University will use the same measures as common reports such as the University of Florida’s “The Top American Research Universities” to better establish its progress.

The task force recommendations would have a committee appointed to regularly assess the University’s progress over time and look for trends.

Measurement is an essential part of strategic positioning, Roe said, because it justifies administrative decisions.

“As time goes on there will have to be reallocations of resources from one college to another, and it’s easier if it’s supported by facts and reason rather than intuition,” Roe said.