USC News

Menu Search

Keck and Public Policy Schools map plans for a USC Health System

by Brenda Maceo

On March 13, leaders from the Keck School of Medicine and the School of Public Policy and Planning met to discuss ways the two schools can collaborate on the future development of a USC Health System.

Attending from the School of Public Policy were Bob Biller, acting dean, Robert Tranquada, professor emeritus, and Bob Myrtle, professor, all recognized experts in managed care systems–not only in the U.S., but worldwide. Not present from Public Policy was Professor Glenn Melnick, who was in Indonesia where he consults and assists the government with health care delivery systems.

These experts met with Stephen J. Ryan, dean of the Keck School of Medicine and Jeff Huffman, CEO of the USC Care Medical Group, the USC physician private-practice organization.

The group met to discuss USC’s transition from a county-based medical school to a private research medical center and how that transformation can be extrapolated to other systems. The Keck School of Medicine has a unique public system partnership with Los Angeles County and at the same time partners with Childrens Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and other not-for-profit partners. The school also has a relationship with Tenet Healthcare–a for-profit system.

Ryan noted the revolution in medical education that took place at the beginning of the 20th Century and observed that the nation is now experiencing the most profound change in medical education in almost 100 years.

The 1910 Flexner Report, a document that reviewed the nation’s system of medical education, fundamentally changed the way medicine was taught, Ryan said.

It recommended adaptation of the Johns Hopkins model– baccalaureate degree prior to medical education, university-based medical schools over proprietary schools and recommended a massive reduction in the number of medical schools which were reduced from 155 to 51. Today, with 125 medical schools in the U.S., we again find ourselves at a crossroads, said Ryan, This time, due to economics.

Ryan said the group reviewed mechanisms by which faculty physicians must now pay themselves through their private practice activities or hospital contracts and essentially donate their teaching time. At the same time, reimbursements for unit procedures from payers, such as insurance companies, HMOs, and Medicare, continue to decrease. Many physicians have had to more than double their patient case loads to maintain their income, he said.

No one can predict the outcome of our current situation the only certainty is further turmoil and change, said Ryan But utilizing the best minds from throughout USC will help us ensure the most favorable future. USC has a wealth of expertise in it various schools. The School of Public Policy and Planning under the able leadership of Bob Biller has so many talented faculty who can provide their perspective and valuable association to our Keck School and health system plans. Perhaps we may develop a model for other medical schools who are or will be facing similar situations.

Among the great advantages noted for the Keck School are its outstanding faculty, entrepreneurial spirit of its departments and divisions, its location in Los Angeles, and the recent momentum generated from the W. M. Keck Foundation gift.

Keck School and Public Policy leaders will continue to confer on the evolution and direction of the USC Health system and how the Keck School might best enhance of its unique strengths.

The week following the original meeting, Biller, was hospitalized for treatment of kidney stones. He was released from USC University Hospital on April 5 and his recovery is progressing well, according to Jeffry Huffman, his physician.

Talks between the two schools are expected to resume soon.

Ryan said meetings are also scheduled to take place with Keck School leadership and representatives from the Annenberg School of Communication, the School of Engineering, the Alfred E. Mann Institute and the Annenberg Center for Communication to discuss possible collaborations and ventures.

Keck and Public Policy Schools map plans for a USC Health System

Top stories on USC News