Letter from the Dean
The stealthiest impediment to progress may well be conventional wisdom. “This is the way we’ve always done it” — consciously or not — helps determine what problems we address and which solutions we consider. The U.S. health care system is not immune. Health care is resistant to change because of its complexity, byzantine structure and, most importantly, the high stakes involved: life and death.
Stanford Medicine is changing that.
Precision health refocuses biomedical research and patient care to predict and prevent more diseases, and, if they do strike, cure them precisely. It dramatically broadens the factors we consider during diagnosis and treatment and employs game-changing tools, such as big data and artificial intelligence. It challenges the status quo. With the same mindset, we’re examining everything we do.
This issue of Stanford Medicine magazine explores what progress looks like across our clinics, hospitals, research labs and classrooms. Enhancing quality while driving down cost has long been the goal of health care reform in the United States, and that is also our goal here at Stanford. But for us, value is much more than an equation — quality divided by cost. It is about promoting precision health and sharing our pioneering solutions with patients everywhere.
With open minds, we are not only creatively solving the obvious problems but also identifying and overcoming hurdles we didn’t realize were slowing us down.
Examples multiply as the full ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Stanford community comes to bear. Computer simulations of staffing and patient flow revealed a solution to a shortage of post-surgical recovery beds at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford — and the resulting change improved efficiency at the Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood. Progress snowballs.
Academic medical centers like Stanford Medicine have come a long way from providing one-size-fits-all medicine, but we still have far to go to ensure each patient gets the right care at the right time. Personalized medicine means we can modify care down to an individual’s genome. And a better understanding of the social determinants of health — everything from our behavior to our environment — means we have the opportunity and duty to treat each person individually.
That’s why Stanford Medicine’s Humanwide pilot project is so important and so exciting. Engaging a diverse cohort of 50 patients at Stanford Medicine’s Primary Care 2.0 clinic in Santa Clara, Humanwide took a comprehensive, data-driven and collaborative approach to health care. Over the course of a year, care teams identified previously undiagnosed and overlooked health risks, and worked with patients on treatment plans to avert potential serious medical problems.
This shift in focus to detecting disease earlier, strengthening patient-provider relationships and deploying the latest health technology not only enhances value, it also demonstrates the power and promise of precision health.
Change is underway, and it is beginning at Stanford Medicine.
Lloyd Minor, MD
Carl and Elizabeth Naumann Dean of the School of Medicine
Professor of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery