Medical News: Welcome back to Kentucky. What are you most looking forward to in your new role as Executive Vice President for Health Affairs at UK HealthCare?
Mark Newman, MD: I’m very happy to be back in the Bluegrass. I look forward to working with everyone within UK HealthCare as well as people across the state with the goal of working together to improve the health of the people of the Commonwealth.
We’ve been a leader in partnering with outstanding community providers throughout the state and region to ensure access to advanced care closer to home. We hope to continue to strengthen those existing partnerships and also look for additional strong community partnerships to expand access to advanced care in Kentucky and the region. We want to continue to be the place for patients who need the most complex patient care to come and to continue to embrace our role as the University for Kentucky. And, we want to continue to advance both the research and education part of our mission, allowing us to be the very best at what we do, not only within Kentucky but across the nation.
MN: What is your vision for academic health centers and the role they play in developing and training the next generation of healthcare providers?
Newman: The intersection and synergy between research, clinical care and education are what makes an academic health center like the University of Kentucky a great place to learn and a great place to work and have a career. Looking to the future, it is essential that we be innovative in our approach to educating the next generation of physicians, physician-scientists and all patient care providers. It is vital that we be inventive in our approach to teaching value-based strategies for providing care and also how to take advantage of advanced and groundbreaking technologies to offer not just the best care, but also the most cost-effective care. It is also key for both UK HealthCare and for Kentucky that we continue to recruit the best and brightest individuals who want to make a difference in the lives of patients. Currently, more than half of our faculty are individuals who were medical students, residents or Fellows here at UK.
MN: Coming in from the outside, what are your observations of the healthcare environment across Kentucky? What is Kentucky doing well and what are areas for improvement?
Newman: Compared to North Carolina, the biggest change is the impact that expanded Medicaid in Kentucky has had in allowing a broad range of our patients to receive healthcare and access to healthcare and to be able to work toward improving overall quality and quantity of life. However, we are early in this process and it does create financial implications for the state that must be managed. Overall, it is important for us to work with our government leaders to maximize the resources that we have in healthcare and work together to provide the best care and access for patients.
As for areas of improvement, Kentucky struggles in many health outcomes areas that are very challenging–the opioid epidemic, cancer, cardiovascular disease–in all of these areas, our survival and incidence rates are not where we want them to be creating both challenges and opportunities. The key is time–these problems didn’t occur overnight and it is imperative that we partner with state and local government and healthcare entities in how we educate and work to change lifestyles, teach prevention and provide care.
MN: How would you like to see the practice of medicine continue to change/healthcare environment change?
Newman: I would like to see us be able to continue to empower physicians, advanced practice providers and other healthcare professionals to take full advantage of their expertise and practice to the full extent of their license to be able to make a difference in the lives of our patients. Too much of medicine has become bureaucratic and I think we need to develop systems that allow providers to practice at their highest level and focus on the patient.