Strategic Planning for the University of Florida Health Science Center and Shands HealthCare

How can the Health Science Center and the Shands HealthCare System get on the same page? How can we make sure that each patient has an exceptional experience when seen by one of our HSC faculty in an ambulatory setting or when admitted to the hospital? Can we visualize the direction of health care and train the next generation of health professionals in a manner that enables them to lead this future forward? Similarly, can we see the direction of science and train the next generation of investigators to create the kind of knowledge that will be most useful in improving health? How can we foster the best environment for our current faculty to create such knowledge, and to attract talented researchers to join them in this effort? Can we improve the population health status of the community we serve? And how can we ensure that Shands and the HSC colleges generate the resources they need to sustain themselves and invest in the programs needed to achieve our collective goals?

One way is to work together on future goals and strategies. Although many of the operating units of the HSC and Shands have done individual strategic planning over the years, there has not been a comprehensive strategic plan across all academic and clinical units and campuses. On July 21, I sent a memo that launched such a process to a Strategic Planning Cabinet: each HSC dean on the Gainesville campus, the regional dean of the Jacksonville campus, each Center and Institute director on the HSC campus, and hospital leadership on both the Gainesville and Jacksonville campuses (recognizing that they are also responsible for affiliates in other locations). This Cabinet has now met twice—Aug. 25 and yesterday, Sept. 29.

As faculty members, students and staff of the HSC and Shands HealthCare System, you may have been wondering what role you will play in this process. I’m writing today to ask for your thoughts on the information I’m sharing with you now about our strategic planning effort.

In the July 21 memo, I asked each Cabinet member to summarize the values and cultural characteristics of their unit (i.e., college, center, institute or hospital), the values and cultural characteristics they associated with other units, the values that should be embraced by the entire enterprise, their unit-specific goals and the major threats to those goals, the single collaboration across the health center and university enterprise that could have the greatest impact, and a summary of financial status. Responses to this request were collated and distilled in a 125-page binder that was distributed to respondents in advance of the Aug. 25 meeting. At that session, which was the first time that the group comprising the Cabinet had come together in one room, we identified important components of a vision statement, converged on a set of shared values, and listed a set of overarching goals. At the end of the meeting, each Cabinet member was asked to complete a three-part assignment:

  1. Develop a vision statement for the University of Florida HSC and the Shands Health System, based on their own ideas about institutional vision, on input from their constituency, and with reference to the vision statements of 11 academic health centers
    that were provided.
  2. List the five most important core institutional values, based on the expanded list of values that received endorsement from the Cabinet at the Aug. 25 meeting, and with feedback from their constituency,
  3. Review one- and five-year overarching strategic goals with faculty and staff, consider the need to expand or edit these goals and begin the process of developing unit-specific goals and tactics.

At yesterday’s meeting, the Strategic Planning Cabinet constructed the following statement of our unique characteristics and vision:

The University of Florida Health Science Center and Shands Health System represents a nationally unique collaboration between a health system and six colleges encompassing major health professions on multiple campuses.

Our vision: Together we strive to create unstoppable momentum toward the goal of improving individual and community health through discovery, clinical and translational science and technology, exceptional education, and patient-centered, innovative and high-quality health care.

In addition, the Cabinet endorsed the following core institutional values, visualized as a pinwheel
around our patients and community:

Core institutional values, visualized as a pinwheel

The Cabinet also endorsed the following overarching one-year and five-year goals, within which unit-specific goals will be developed:

Five-year goals

  1. Achieve national leadership in clinical and basic science research.
  2. Become a national model for interdisciplinary health sciences education and health-care delivery.
  3. Optimize the state’s return on investment by diversifying and enhancing complementary revenue streams in support of our institutional missions.
  4. Achieve quantified, high-bar targets for specified metrics in:
  • a. Patient-care quality and safety
  • b. Faculty recruitment and retention
  • c. Market share
  • d. Financial margins
  • e. Federal research funding
  • f. Educational quality
  • g. Community health

One-year goals

  1. Create a compelling vision and plan.
  2. Define benchmarks for measureable improvements in:
    • Patient-care quality and safety
    • Faculty recruitment and retention
    • Market share
    • Financial margins
    • Federal research funding
    • Educational quality
    • Community health
  3. Effect culture change; “We” and “they” become “us.”
  4. Fill key leadership positions with high-impact talent most capable of advancing the vision and plan.
  5. Define the strategic direction for the Jacksonville regional campus and other campuses.

Finally, the Cabinet considered a variety of overarching strategies, the implementation of which will be shaped by the individual units, for achieving these goals.

The next step is for each member of the Cabinet to obtain feedback from his or her constituency about these statements of vision and overarching goals, distill this feedback, and return with the other Cabinet members to the next meeting on Oct. 27 to finalize these statements. At the Oct. 27 meeting, we will also consider the overarching strategies in more detail.
After the Oct. 27 meeting, leadership in each unit will coordinate a more focused strategic planning process to define unit-specific goals and strategies, and the all-important detailed tactics that are needed to implement these strategies. Cabinet meetings will continue monthly, to take advantage of as many synergistic cross-linkages as possible, and to ensure that the goals and strategies of each unit are consistent with the overarching goals and strategies.

By Spring 2010, we should have crystallized an overall plan, with unit-specific plans completed or near completion. This will serve as the general framework to guide decision-making over the next five years, with modifications on an annual basis.

Of course, the work of the Health Science Center and the health system goes on each day. The Strategic Plan is under construction, but in the meantime, on the health center campus we are about to open the Shands Cancer Hospital, the Emerging Pathogens Institute and the Biomedical Sciences Building, all within the next two months, and the new College of Veterinary Medicine’s small animal hospital in about a year. We are unique nationally in the amount and diversity of state-of-the-art clinical and research space that is about to come on line. Key recruitments for deans, chairs and directorships are under way, and a new variant of the governance model is about to be implemented. We will seize upon opportunities that forward our mission when presented and will not lose pace during this planning process.

To all the faculty, students and staff members of the UF HSC and Shands Health System, let me know your reaction to this process and how you think it can be improved. Equally important, when you receive a request for feedback from your dean, center, director, institute director or hospital CEO in the coming days, please don’t hesitate to provide your best ideas through the mechanism that they articulate, the key things—large and small—that you may have felt for some time should be done, but may not have had the chance to express in this kind of forum.

Go Gators!

David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Health Affairs
President, UF&Shands Health System