Leaders in academic medicine reflect on Penn Medicine’s growth, strategies, and strengths—and on the value of Penn’s model of an integrated academic health center that many others have worked to emulate.


On the establishment of Penn Medicine as an integrated academic health system and a model of leading centers today…


The world of U.S. health care was still at that time largely focused on individual hospitals and clinics as opposed to systems of multiple hospitals and clinics and other treatment centers. That was especially true in academic medical centers where the common model was that you have one medical school with its usually one primary teaching hospital next door, and that was the extent of it. They would obviously get referrals from elsewhere, but it was very much a standalone model. Penn was on the cutting edge of acknowledging that health care required greater reach and greater integration of systems. As a result, the Penn Medicine that has grown up today—with its multiple hospital facilities and diverse multispecialty clinics covering a fairly large region—has become the model of what many of the leading academic health centers aspire to be.

– Darrell Kirch, MD, President and CEO, AAMC

On academic health centers’ capacity to improve care by eliminating variation…


 When you come to Penn Medicine, you know that you are going to have similar, positive experience each time, like Ritz Carlton or Disney. The greatest institutions present themselves the same way every day. With every patient, no matter where you go in Penn Medicine, you are going to feel the same: great doctors, great nurses, great facilities, great information systems. We know everything about you, where you saw us in Princeton, or Philadelphia or Lancaster.

– Ralph W. Muller, CEO, University of Pennsylvania Health System

On Penn Medicine’s growth and leadership


The investment in the physical infrastructure has been a critical part of the transformation. People who come back for reunions don’t recognize the place. When I was a resident, we had Silverstein, and the Clinical Research Building was just going up around 1988. And then BRB went up and Stellar Chance, and PCAM and Smilow. Today, Penn Medicine is unbelievably different. In any industry the inputs to production are land, labor, and capital—the same is true in academic production. Penn Medicine has made advances in all three. So if the space for clinical, teaching, and research activities are the land part, the labor part is the incredible expansion of the faculty and moving the faculty up a couple of notches in excellence and eminence. And revenue has expanded to $8 billion. Penn Medicine has been transformed; it’s an amazing thing. 

– David Asch, MD, MBA, John Morgan Professor, Medicine and Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Executive Director, Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation


The leadership exemplified now by Larry Jameson and Ralph Muller is a key active ingredient in Penn Medicine’s success. They understand that the missions of the academic center can’t work against each other, they have to be aligned. Much of what they have done, such as a strong emphasis on leadership development programs, not just for the people at the very top of the system, but for a broad range of emerging leaders in the health care system, has been critical to create the kind of alignment within the organization that makes for a truly integrated system.

Historically, academic medical centers tended to be very fragmented, and very siloed. Now, they need to acknowledge how interdependent all the pieces of the center are. And that requires leaders who can help people work together in a highly collaborative, mutually accountable way. 

– Darrell Kirch, MD, President and CEO, AAMC

On the essential elements of a top-tier, world-leading academic medical institution…


The critical elements for success begin with having exceptional people working as part of Penn Medicine. The discoveries that alter scientific thinking or clinical care are rare and require a unique set of attributes that we have at Penn Medicine. You have to have an elite group of creative and rigorous faculty. Second, you need to arm them with cutting-edge tools that what drive a lot of innovation. Third, you need a culture that embraces diversity of thought and encourages people to be bold, collaborate, and cross disciplinary boundaries. The many centers and institutes that we have created are terrific catalysts for that kind of collaboration. This combination of elements—the people, the tools, and the culture have been the formula for success at Penn Medicine.

– J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President, University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and Dean, Perelman School of Medicine


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