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One UW Health: A Plan for Integration

One UW Health: A Plan for Integration - Inside UW Health, Mission Watch

Today, UW School of Medicine and Public Health, UW Hospital and Clinics and UW Medical Foundation all work together under the brand name UW Health. All three individual organizations and UW Health as a whole have achieved great success. But the external health care environment is changing quickly. Reimbursements are shrinking, and the increasing emphasis on quality, value and population health require a new kind of care delivery system. To be able to respond nimbly and keep up with the pace of change, UW Health needs a unified structure with a single governing body, a single leader and shared stewardship of all our health care resources. The time is right for integration.


Learn About the Plan

One UW Health: A Plan for Integration

One UW Health: A Story in Words and Pictures

Gallery of Support

Click on the images below to see messages of support for integration from UW Health physician and administrative leaders. 


What is integration?

“Integration” refers to the legal combination of UWMF and UWHCA into a new academic health care delivery system that will have a single physician leader, fully combined clinical and business functions and a common financial structure. This new organization will be known to the public as “UW Health,” the brand name we now use to represent our aligned, but separate entities. The UW School of Medicine and Public Health will remain a school of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, unchanged in its structure and place in the University. The plan is structured to insure that the school’s academic missions have paramount importance and consideration in the workings of the new clinical delivery system.

Why do we need to integrate?

UWHCA and UWMF have each been highly successful in their own right up and have established a good collaborative interface. Ultimately however, we are separate organizations, with different leadership, organizational structures and financial responsibilities. Because we represent different parts of the health care continuum, we’ve tended to have different perspectives on, and reactions to, the changing face of health care. And while we have worked in good faith to combine some administrative functions, we still suffer from the operational redundancies and inefficiencies and the different allegiances that are natural outgrowths of our different structures and histories. Our clinical, academic and administrative leaders, like leaders of many other health systems, have concluded that organizational “alignment” is insufficient for long term success, as we negotiate a demanding and rapidly changing health care landscape. There is a consensus that we need a structure that will allow us to adapt rapidly, act strategically, respond to value and population health imperatives and squeeze every bit of waste out of our care delivery system.

The purpose of our clinical organization is to support our clinicians and staff, in all ways possible, in their efforts to improve the health of those who place their trust in our hands. At the same time, we embrace our mandate to support our academic missions. These purposes are best achieved through an integrated organization.

Our integration goals include:

This process seems to be moving forward very rapidly. Why now?

For those who have been long term faculty members, we can draw an analogy between current considerations and those that moved us, 20 years ago, to form UWMF, an integrated group practice created by the melding of 15 separate departments. The issues then were much the same, although the current intensity and rate of change suggest those were “the good old days.” At that time, we were “ahead of the curve”, responding to the environment well before many other organizations. The decision to form UWMF has served us well, despite the uncertainty and skepticism that attended its formation.

The integration of UWMF and UWHCA is the next logical step in our organizational evolution. One might ask then, “Why did we wait so long?” Within the answer to that question, also lies the answer to “Why the rush?” As an institution, we are no longer at the “cutting edge” of effective organizational structure, as many of our peer AHCs have already integrated. Until recently, we have not had an institutional consensus to take the next logical step in organizational structure. Now, a convergence of many internal and external factors has created a consensus at all levels of leadership, starting with the Chancellor’s office, that we must move forward to effectively support our missions. Rather than being rushed to integrate, we have been freed to integrate, and we are eager to move forward.

Until now, the success of our individual organizations has masked our inefficiencies, but our revenue cushion is no longer comfortable – we need an organization that is efficient and nimble. With unified governance, a single leader and shared stewardship of resources, integration will allow us to become that organization. Our patients already think we are a single organization and the health related entities with which we deal wish we were integrated. It’s none too soon to get there.