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June 27, 2014

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Message from Paul Ramsey

UW Medicine’s Accountable Care Network is focused on excellent, affordable patient care

Dear Colleagues:

June 13 was a watershed day for UW Medicine. We announced the launch of the UW Medicine Accountable Care Network with our first major contract with Boeing.

We have been preparing for many years to serve as an accountable care organization committed to improving the patient experience, achieving better health outcomes for the population of patients we serve, and reducing costs to improve the value of care. These strategic objectives strongly support our mission to improve the health of the public. Accountable care contracts, such as our contract with Boeing, will enable us to partner with the payers for healthcare to provide better access and higher quality care that is more affordable for patients and their employers.

The UW Medicine Accountable Care Network will be one of two Preferred Partnership healthcare options for eligible Boeing employees this fall during their healthcare enrollment for 2015. While Boeing will continue to offer its traditional health plans, the company will encourage employees to join our network (or one operated by Providence/Swedish) by communications that describe the advantages of the network to provide the employees and their families with high-quality, affordable care.

The UW Medicine Accountable Care Network will offer rapid access to primary care providers and specialists, after-hours availability, and greater use of electronic communications and electronic medical records. The network will also provide more personalized and coordinated care, especially for chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, using the medical home model.

We have expanded our geographic reach by inviting other healthcare organizations to join the network. The UW Medicine Accountable Care Network for Boeing is the most comprehensive network in the region and extends from Bellingham to Tacoma. The network includes the following members: UW Medicine (all entities and locations), Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics, Island Hospital, MultiCare Health System, Overlake Medical Center, PeaceHealth, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle Children’s Hospital and Skagit Regional Health. Our network has 20 hospitals, more than 550 clinics and nearly 5,000 physicians. Read more about the announcement here.

The success of the UW Medicine Accountable Care Network will require an ongoing clinical and operational focus on metric-based process improvements that deliver seamless, integrated, high-quality and patient-centered care in each clinical setting. This commitment to delivering the best care at affordable cost to Boeing employees is exactly what our goal is for every patient at UW Medicine to experience under Patients Are First.

The UW Medicine Accountable Care Network represents the start of an exciting new chapter for UW Medicine and a very promising future for our faculty, staff, patients and communities. Please join me in thanking the hundreds of individuals throughout UW Medicine and our network members who have worked very hard to prepare us to serve our region as a network committed to high quality, accessible and affordable healthcare.


PGRamsey Signature2

Paul G. Ramsey, M.D.
CEO, UW Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and
Dean of the School of Medicine,
University of Washington



Mentally ill Medicare patients more likely to be rehospitalized

More than 7,000 Medicare beneficiaries part of study.

Dimitry Davydow, UW assistant professor of psychiatry & behavioral sciences, is the lead author on a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine that found that older adults with neuropsychiatric disorders may have more than 1.5 times greater risk for a potentially preventable hospitalization and up to 2 times greater risk for rehospitalization within 30 days of leaving the hospital.

Researchers analyzed data for more than 7,000 Medicare beneficiaries; nearly half had depression, dementia, cognitive impairment or some combination of these disorders. Individuals with one disorder were more likely to be hospitalized for a health problem that, given adequate access and quality care, potentially could have been prevented in a proactive primary care intervention. For more on the story.

New regions of human genome linked with lung capacity

Lung cancer screening.

An international study involving more than 50,000 people from broad ethnic backgrounds has led to the discovery of novel regions of the human genome associated with vital capacity, an indirect measure of lung volume. The results were published June 17 in Nature Genetics. 

Several University of Washington researchers participated in this project, including co-lead author Sina Gharib, UW associate professor of medicine, and Susan Heckbert, UW professor of epidemiology, and Bruce Psaty, UW professor of medicine. For more on the story.


Clinical Care

“Medicare's puzzling refusal to cover lung-cancer screening”

Douglas Wood, UW professor and chief of general thoracic surgery, and Ella Kazeeroni, a professor of radiology at University of Michigan, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal pushing for lung-cancer screening of Medicare patients, which they say could save 14,000 lives a year. “It’s not clear why Medicare does not cover lung-cancer screening like it does for breast, colon and prostate cancer—all far less lethal. But the issue is especially acute since nearly 70 percent of lung cancer occurs in the Medicare population,” they wrote. This evidence, published in 2011, was compelling enough that the United States Preventive Services Taskforce, the government body charged with evaluating cancer screening and other preventive services, has recommended lung-cancer screening for patients at high risk for lung cancer.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network offers evidence-based guidelines to physicians and patients about individuals who should be considered for screening, as well as systematic evaluations of any detected abnormalities that can minimize unnecessary tests and procedures. For more on the story (pay site).

New muscular dystrophy center at UW

Several potential methods for managing muscular dystrophy are on the horizon.

A newly established muscular dystrophy research center at UW will design and test treatments for the most common forms of the muscle-wasting disorder, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and facioscapulohumeral dystrophy, also called FSHD. Jeffrey S. Chamberlain, the McCaw Chair in Muscular Dystrophy and UW professor of neurology, co-directs the center with Stephen Tapscott, an investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a UW professor of neurology.

After years of scientific studies, several potential methods for managing muscular dystrophy are on the horizon. The new center is one of the nation’s Senator Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Centers. It is funded through a  four-year, $6.3 million grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a branch of the National Institutes of Health. For more on the story.


Education and Training

The Carlos A. Pellegrini Diversity Visiting Student Internships Program initiated

The UW School of Medicine has started a visiting student sub-internship program for fourth-year medical students interested in surgery. Students will spend four weeks on one of the surgical teams at Seattle Children's Hospital, University of Washington Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center and/or Puget Sound Veteran’s Administrative Hospital. They will care for a variety of patients. The program is open to applicants who belong to groups recognized as historically under-represented in the health and science professions. For more information.

UW work highlighted at global health conference

The Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) is transofrming medical education in sub-Saharan Africa.

UW joined representatives from 208 universities and 55 countries in May at the 5th Annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health meeting in Washington, D.C. The National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center, in writing about the conference, featured the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI), which is transforming medical education in sub-Saharan Africa. UW received a MEPI grant to work with the University of Nairobi on training physicians in rural areas -- similar to the training of rural physicians in the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) program through the UW School of Medicine. James Kiarie, a Kenyan physician who is quoted, trained at the University of Washington. 

The Fogarty Center also highlights a new survey of global health interest at college campuses. The survey was conducted by researchers in the UW Department of Global Health and shows that global health programs have grown substantially over the past two decades and are likely to remain robust. For more information.


WWAMI Regional News

Montana WWAMI program hires new associate director

The Montana WWAMI Program at Montana State University hired Mike Spinelli as the new associate director to assist Martin Teintze, the director.

Mike Spinelli

Spinelli arrived in Bozeman four years ago, established his internal medicine practice, and immediately sought opportunities to get involved in WWAMI teaching. He has worked with the first-year students teaching their medical informatics class and directing the first-year clinical preceptorships. Under Spinelli’s leadership, the first-year preceptorship is an integrated clinical experience where students apply the skills they learn in their introduction to clinical medicine course to patients in their preceptor’s clinic.

As the associate director, Spinelli will work to expand clinical education in the area. His role includes curriculum and program development, professional development and medical career advising. He will continue to have oversight of clinical education integration, curriculum and program development, professional development, and medical career advising within the Montana WWAMI first-year program.

Spinelli also works with medical student orientation, the white coat ceremony, and the Montana Targeted Rural and Underserved Track (TRUST) program as well as being the site director for the third-year required internal medical clerkship in Bozeman.

Spinelli is also tasked with recruiting Bozeman-area physicians to participate in teaching WWAMI students, help with faculty development and be integrally involved with planning the foundations phase of the new WWAMI curriculum.

University of Wyoming Professor Timothy Jay Robinson honored

University of Wyoming Professor Timothy Jay Robinson has been named a fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA), the nation’s pre-eminent professional statistical society. Robinson is a professor of statistics and director of the WWAMI medical education program in the University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences. He was recognized for outstanding professional contributions and demonstrated leadership in the field of statistical science. For more on his honor.



  • Tom Greer, UW professor of medicine, received the Family Medicine Educator of the Year award from the Washington Academy of Family Physicians. Greer was instrumental in creating the Targeted Rural Underserved Training (TRUST) program to cultivate more physicians for rural and underserved areas.For 25 years he co-directed the family medicine clerkship, a required clinical course for medical students.Greer was credited for laying a strong foundation for making the UW School of Medicine one of the best primary medical schools in the country. For more on his award.
  • Rhea Coler, UW affiliate associate professor iof global health and vice president of preclinical biology at the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle, was named one of six Women to Watch in Life Science. Her work focuses on the characterization of candidate vaccines for tuberculosis, leishmaniasis, pneumococcus, malaria and chlamydia. For more on her honor.
  • King Holmes, chair of the UW Department of Global Health, has been named to the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Council of Councils. The council advises the NIH director on policies and activities of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives, including making recommendations on research that represents important areas of emerging scientific opportunities, rising public health challenges or knowledge gaps that deserve special emphasis or would otherwise benefit from strategic planning and coordination. Holmes was one of  nine new members appointed to the 27-member council. For more on his appointment.


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