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While times are tough, several things encourage me that all is not gloom and doom. I see several opportunities for UI Health Care in President Barack Obama’s stimulus package, including about $10 billion being made available through the National Institutes of Health for research. Applications for those dollars have already arrived, and we have 30 days to complete the requests for funding.

The installation of our new electronic medical record and provider order entry system will position us for premium reimbursements being allocated for medical centers using such nationally certified systems. In addition, the stimulus package includes funding for states to promote statewide connectivity of such systems.

Medicaid and Medicare funding is being addressed at both the federal and state levels, which will likely assist reimbursement for this significant patient population.

While these things may help, all of us at UI Health Care are also working hard to meet the financial challenges for the end of Fiscal Year 2009 and beginning to plan for Fiscal Year 2010. Soon I hope to share with you specific actions UI Health Care leaders will be taking to reduce expenses and also announce other activities staff and faculty can participate in to further assist expense reduction.

One of the most important things we can do is to be optimistic and look to the future.

Signed, Jean Robillard


Expense reduction suggestion update

Staff and faculty members have provided over 185 unique recommendations for cost savings, revenue enhancement, or performance improvement. Fifty are being implemented while many others are being reviewed for their feasibility. Below is an example of the implementation of one of the energy-saving suggestions
from staff.

Health Care Information Systems is designing and implementing a method to turn off a select group of computers during overnight hours and power them on automatically in the morning. The project is conservatively estimated to save $40 per system per year in electricity costs. Estimates show that, if 7,000 of the 14,000 supported computers are powered off at night and on weekends, we could save up to $280,000 and 4 million kwh per year.

There are two separate groups of computers in this model. One group is for computers that should be turned on each weekday, Monday to Friday at 6:45 a.m., and the other group will turn on the machines every day at 6:45 a.m. All machines in either group will turn off at 6:45 p.m. every day following a 15-minute warning countdown. The day’s shutdown can be canceled by the user during this 15-minute period. In addition, if a machine is turned off automatically, it can be powered on again at anytime. This system will only be implemented on domain computers running the Windows Operating System.

The initial phase of this rollout is to outpatient areas only and is expected to be complete by the end of this fiscal year. Inpatient areas, the ETC, MOR, ASC, and staff computers will not be affected by this policy. When implementation in ambulatory areas is complete, the project will be extended to non-clinical areas.

Welsh named founding director of UI Institute for Biomedical Discovery

University of Iowa President Sally Mason has named Michael Welsh, MD, the founding director of the University of Iowa Institute for Biomedical Discovery (UIIBD). The appointment took effect January 1.

Welsh, a professor of internal medicine and molecular physiology and biophysics, holds the Roy J. Carver Chair in Internal Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics, is director of the UI Cystic Fibrosis Research Center, and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. As director of the UI Institute for Biomedical Discovery, he will report to Jean Robillard, UI vice president for medical affairs, and collaborate with scientists and academic leaders across the campus to establish the UIIBD.

Welsh’s primary leadership responsibilities will be to recruit outstanding scientific leaders to head the institute’s various areas of primary focus–neurosciences, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, imaging, and regenerative medicine. He also will help define and promote the culture and vision for the institute throughout the UI community.

The UIIBD will be located next to the Carver Biomedical Research Building and house laboratories and office space dedicated to cutting-edge, cross-disciplinary research in the biomedical and life sciences, involving scientists from across the entire campus. The building is part of a larger university effort to bring together scientists from multiple disciplines to pursue research leading to new treatments for patients, create new educational opportunities for students, and bolster Iowa’s economy through new jobs and business partnerships.

Looking Ahead

Biochemistry head candidate lecture

Katherine L. Wilson, PhD, professor of cell biology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, will present “Nuclear Structure and Human Physiology: Growing Links” at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 10, in 2117 MERF. A reception will follow in the MERF Atrium. Dr. Wilson is a candidate for head of the Department of Biochemistry.

Speaking of Excellence lecture

Steven A. Wartman, MD, PhD, President and CEO of the Association of Academic Health Centers, will provide the next Speaking of Excellence lecture titled, “To Survive or Thrive: the Challenge for Academic Health Centers,” at 12 Noon, Tuesday, March 10, in the East Room, Elevator F, Level 8, UI Hospitals and Clinics. All faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend. A live Web cast of the event will be available to the public at noon.

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