Wisconsin Policy Forum: The Medical College of Wisconsin has elevated healthcare in the region and state

Milwaukee, April 9, 2018 – The vision and goals for a medical school in the greater Milwaukee area largely have been fulfilled by the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), states a report released by the Wisconsin Policy Forum today.

In 1967, the Heil Commission, formed by the Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC), laid forth three key tenets for preserving a medical school and building a comprehensive medical center for southeastern Wisconsin. These included increasing the supply of physicians for the region and state, providing complex medical care for the region, and conducting critical medical research.

"At the Medical College of Wisconsin, we are honored to look back and to validate that we have fulfilled the vision articulated by the region's civic and business leaders in 1967," stated Dr. John R. Raymond, Sr., president and CEO of MCW. "While it is important to reflect upon our legacy as a source of vitality and innovation over the decades, our focus now is to look forward and to drive further improvements in health and healthcare for our region, state, nation and world. Sustaining healthcare excellence and value in the community requires a shared commitment by the region's businesses and leaders. MCW and our partners continually seek to improve value and reduce costs for our patients."

Looking ahead, leaders at MCW will examine four key areas of need in the community to continue the transformation of local healthcare and improvement of health started in 1967 by the Heil Commission and the GMC. These areas include:

Elevating the region's care through academic medicine
Academic medical centers are made up of a medical school and teaching hospitals that play crucial roles in educating tomorrow's doctors, providing cutting-edge patient care and conducting groundbreaking research. According to a study recently released, U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals represented by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which includes MCW, generate approximately 3.1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and support more than 6.3 million jobs nationwide.

Driving vitality in the community through innovation
MCW invests more than $200 million annually in driving innovation in the region, comprising 68 percent of all research investment by universities in southeast Wisconsin. This investment leads to jobs, spin-off companies and direct benefit to the vitality of the community, and attracts talent to the region. The report acknowledges that an inability to sustain MCW's current research levels would affect the output and quality of healthcare in the region, and diminish MCW's ability to attract the renowned scientists and physicians who provide this innovation, education and care.

Eliminating health disparities in the community
Despite major advances in innovation and high-acuity care, there still is room for improvement to achieve better health for this community, which includes making a serious commitment to addressing health disparities and equity in the region, and making healthcare both accessible and affordable. It will take a community-wide effort and coordination of initiatives to make the significant changes that are needed to address health disparities.

Connecting physicians to communities that need them most: pipeline to practice
As shown in the report, the physician-to-patient ratio in southeastern Wisconsin exceeds the national average. However, the distribution of these professionals needs to be improved to better connect them with under-resourced communities where they are needed most. This needs to be done by strengthening the pipeline of doctors who are connected to and reflect these communities. Addressing these needs begins by enhancing the pipeline as early as middle school to ensure children have access to quality STEM education and career opportunities. MCW is committed to helping create pathways within under-resourced communities, targeting and inspiring students from middle school to medical school with the intent of increasing practice in under-resourced communities. Na’il embodies this strategy at work. See his story.

"Fifty years ago, the issues of shrinking public resources, growing a talent pipeline within the medical field and increasing innovation created the urgent need for the Heil Report to exist. Those needs exist today within other sectors in our region. The work of the GMC still focuses on developing and retaining regional talent, growing innovation, and strengthening public resources," stated Julia Taylor, president of the GMC. "Today, thanks to the medical school and academic medical center in our region, our community is physically and economically healthier, and we are looking to the challenges of the future to ensure that positive trajectory continues in all areas of talent needs."

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