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Michael Porter, Harvard Business Review (November-December 1996)
“Strategy is making trade-offs in competing. The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”

During my meetings with faculty and staff across UW Medicine, I hear many questions about our direction at UW Medicine. While our mission to improve the health of the public is well understood, you wonder how your work connects to all of our current health system initiatives.

I am pleased to announce that we will be developing a clinical strategic plan to clarify our direction and road map for achieving our goals. This plan will look ahead five years to UW Medicine 2025. It will give us a clear vision of how we want to serve our patients and community in order to achieve the two health system goals that are central to our mission (see Paul Ramsey’s Impact of our work, years later, for UW Medicine’s research and education goals):

  • Provide high-quality, safe, service-centered care to all patients and families while controlling the rising cost of healthcare.

  • Sustain health before and after illness for individual patients and populations. 


Our work to develop this plan will start with an assessment of UW Medicine’s competitive position, including how we compare to local healthcare systems and other large academic health systems. Then, we will examine our clinical opportunities and priorities by considering questions such as these:

  • What kind of ambulatory network do we need?  How big does that network need to be?

  • How much growth can we handle before we need to build new facilities?

  • How can we achieve our goals for patient satisfaction, clinical quality, population health and affordable care?

  • What should our key clinical areas of focus be to support differentiation?

  • What types of strategic partnerships should we consider?

  • What clinical services should be located at each of the two UWMC campuses after integration?

  • How will changes in technology and clinical practice impact our work?

  • How do we maintain the financial resources to support our safety-net role?

  • What are the long-range financial implications of these choices?

I expect that the strategic plan will take about six months to complete. Once finalized, the plan will serve many purposes. It will give us a shared decision-making model to make choices about priorities and growth. It will guide us in making the trade-offs to compete successfully. It will help us choose where to invest our resources and where not to make investments at this time.

The strategic plan will also help us locate services more efficiently within our health system and eliminate redundancies. As part of the UWMC/NWH integration, we need to make decisions about which services are best provided on each campus. In many areas, we need to take the same approach to resources across our entire health system.

Starting in May, we will be reaching out to the UW Medicine community for input as we proceed to develop the clinical strategic plan. With your partnership, I look forward to having greater clarity about where we are going — and how much progress we have made — on our journey to UW Medicine 2025.


Lisa Brandenburg

Chief Health System Officer

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