For the past few months, faculty and staff from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice (TDI) have been kindling a relationship with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine. The collaboration reflects an effort to pursue mutual learning experiences. Capitalizing on a special TDI alumni connection, Alumni Relations Manager Jessica Johnson facilitated a learning exchange that may benefit both organizations, and should have positive ramifications on the larger communities of associated with each program.
In early October, and again in early November, TDI faculty and staff traveled to El Paso, Texas, the site of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and the Paul S. Foster School of Medicine. Participating in conferences, panel discussions, and small meetings with faculty and staff from the medical school there, the group brought the collective knowledge of TDI to bear on the particular difficulties confronting the border region.
“We used a unique alumni connection to get involved down there,” Johnson said. “That connection created a new channel to a place that could use TDI’s help. The area around El Paso is confronting some major issues, but a lot of these are population health and access problems – that’s something TDI excels at.” Noting that the region shows high rates of diabetes and obesity, Johnson pointed to a large population of uninsured Americans and the growth of Fort Bliss, a major U.S. Army base, as key hurdles that both sets of faculty have been focusing on.
Back in October, TDI participated in the first annual Mano y Corazón (Hand & Heart) Binational Conference of Multicultural Health Care Solutions. The highlight of the conference was a Special Roundtable Session held by State Senator José R. Rodriguez, that focused on the impact of the Affordable Care Act on border health. The keynote speaker at the conference was Dr. Donald Berwick, former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. TDI has a special relationship with the Affordable Care Act – the Institute introduced the idea of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) – which placed TDI faculty in a unique position to offer insight to their colleagues in Texas.
ACOs have become a major issue in modern medical practice. Forbes Magazine recently published an article, detailing the results of an Oliver Wyman report, which claims that the ACO model is now a reality for up to ten percent of the U.S. population. This means that between 25 and 31 million patients each year are receiving care from health care providers who have been rewarded for their efforts to improve care quality and reign in costs.
“TDI’s contribution of ACOs to the Affordable Care Act legislation yet another way TDI has put itself on the map as a leader.” Johnson said. “By way of sharing knowledge with more educational and medical organizations in various regions, we can market TDI and Dartmouth, while simultaneously creating an exchange with these regions that will help them prepare for policies that will be affecting them. This allows them to be leaders themselves.”
A month later, during the first week of November, TDI faculty returned to El Paso for the Border Healthcare Dialogue, a conference that allowed for multiple collaborative learning sessions with faculty from the Foster School of Medicine.
“The two schools deal with equally diverse, if very different populations,” Johnson noted. “This collaboration afforded us an opportunity to expand our thinking here at Dartmouth, and allowed us to pass on some of the conclusions we’ve drawn from the work we’re doing with ACO implementation.
TDI staff and faculty were afforded an opportunity to meet with faculty and students from the Foster School, to discuss the benefits of a new curriculum model that pairs classroom learning with clinical work. “The Foster School is a new medical school,” Johnson continued, “but they’re experimenting with a truly integrated curriculum that’s showing some really positive results.” The Foster School is also teaching all of its students medical Spanish, in an effort to provide better care for the border region’s bilingual population, in addition to a summer regional public health immersion class prior to beginning the program.
The Dartmouth Institute’s systemic approaches to public health, and its close relationship with the Affordable Care Act, continue to be valuable assets as the school’s influence and prestige grows. For alumni affairs professionals like Johnson, these are valuable tools in the pursuit of diverse opportunities for TDI’s faculty, students, and alumni, and for marketing the TDI value chain.