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A Transformative Approach to Academic Medicine: The Partnership Between the University of Arizona and Banner Health

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Abstract

The University of Arizona Health Network (UAHN) was a modestly successful health care delivery organization with a vibrant academic portfolio and stable finances. By 2013, however, market forces, health care financing changes, and the burden of technology and informatics upgrades led to a compromised financial position at UAHN, a situation experienced by many academic medical centers. Concurrently, Banner Health had been interested in forming an academic partnership to enhance innovation, including the incorporation of new approaches into health care delivery, and to recruit high-quality providers to the organization. In 2015, the University of Arizona (UA) and Banner Health entered into a unique partnership known as Banner – University Medicine. The objective was to create a statewide system that provides reliable, compassionate, high-quality health care across all of its providers and facilities and to make a 30-year commitment to UA’s College of Medicine in Tucson and the College of Medicine in Phoenix to support the State of Arizona’s position as a first-tier research and training destination with world-class physicians. The goal of the Banner – University Medicine partnership is to create a nationally leading organization that transforms health care by delivering better care, enhanced service, and lower costs through new approaches focused on wellness. Key elements of this partnership are highlighted in this Commentary, including the unique governance structure of the Academic Management Council, the creation of the Academic Enhancement Fund to support the UA Colleges of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix, and novel approaches to medical education, research, innovation, and care.

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