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Earlier this year, I announced that UW Medicine is developing a clinical strategic refresh plan to provide a roadmap for achieving our goals for the health system over the next five years (see Clinical strategic plan will chart path to UW Medicine 2025). Our work to develop this plan is well underway, and I want to provide you with an update on our progress and an opportunity to participate in this process (see question below).

We began by assessing UW Medicine’s competitive position in the marketplace, including how we compare to local healthcare systems and other large academic health systems nationally. The Chartis Group, a healthcare consulting firm, assisted us in completing this assessment and provided a wealth of data and information that will help inform our strategic plan.

Here are a few of the findings:

    • On a national level, we learned that many academic health systems are adapting well to the changes in healthcare. Both patients and payers value the combination of research, teaching and patient care in academic health systems, and this gives us a competitive advantage. The assessment also found that UW Medical Center and Harborview rank among the top 20 of all hospitals in the nation for complex care.


    • One finding in the assessment underscored the financial challenges UW Medicine faces and the importance of achieving our FIT goals. Among the top 20 medical schools in the U.S., UW Medicine had the lowest operating margin in 2018. A critical goal of our strategic refresh is to return to a 3% – 5% operating margin so we have the resources to invest in our people, our programs and our facilities as well as to support continued innovation and growth.


    • The Chartis assessment also gave us information about our local geographic reach. In 2018, more than 70% of our inpatient activity originated in King County, with a total of over 90% coming from Western Washington. Knowing this helps us make decisions about where to focus service line growth and where it might be better to offer care through digital health platforms, such as our virtual clinic or our telemedicine programs, rather than physical facilities. It also reinforced the need to provide seamless access to UW Medicine for those patients locally and regionally who seek our services.


With this assessment in hand, we are now working to outline our key strategies. Here are a few examples of the discussions we are having and the options we are considering:

    • What is our role in providing primary care versus specialty care and how does this role change based on geographic location?


    • What is the right size for our delivery network?


    • Which services should be offered at each location?


    • How do we achieve alignment and act more as a system?


    • What are the financial implications of our decisions?


I expect that our work to finalize the first phase of the strategic plan will be completed by the end of this calendar year. To provide oversight, I have established a Strategic Planning Steering Committee, which I am leading with Dr. Tim Dellit, chief medical officer for UW Medicine and president of UW Physicians. Recommendations will ultimately be reviewed and approved through our governance process.

We have already received excellent input from faculty and staff through our Leadership Development Institutes (LDIs), individual interviews with subject matter experts and a series of retreats with senior leaders. Now, I would like to invite your participation in developing our roadmap for the future with this question:

“What one thing should UW Medicine do to achieve your vision for UW Medicine 2025?” Please reply to

I believe that UW Medicine 2025 will be UW Medicine at its best, and I look forward to receiving your suggestions for this journey and partnering with you to achieve our plan.


Lisa Brandenburg

Chief Health System Officer


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