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A New Approach to Healthcare Delivery

DPT clinical

October 2017


DAVENPORT - Within a decade, nine million Americans will be over the age of 85 and experiencing declining health and disabilities associated with older age, an article published by Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC) reveals.

That is still just a fraction of the total U.S. population, but, as Thomas Higgins noted, "That part of the population consumes the overwhelming percentage of resources that are available. So if you're going to do something about healthcare, you have to do something about those folks in particular."

A 1967 St. Ambrose graduate, Higgins hopes to advance that mission through a $1 million donation that will help launch the Institute for Person-Centered Care at St. Ambrose (IPCC).

Working in association with the Quad Cities professional healthcare community and the St. Ambrose College of Health and Human Services, the IPCC will help promote the developing concepts of person-centered care by integrating health and social services practices in order to produce outcomes driven by an individual's preferences.

Person-centered care empowers the person to direct the work of integrated, inter-professional teams of health and human service professionals in hopes of achieving outcomes desired by the patient.

Higgins' involvement with the concept of person-centered care began nearly two decades ago, when he joined the board of the SCAN Health Plan, a nonprofit HMO. He subsequently founded the SCAN Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on improving healthcare and support for seniors. He also is a board member of C-TAC, a primary driver of the person-centered care movement.

"The Institute for Person-Centered Care will allow St. Ambrose University to be an incubator for PCC thought leaders, practice and research," Higgins said. "The Institute is well-placed at St. Ambrose, as it reinforces the University's commitment to social justice, health equity, and action/service."

The Institute will be the first of its kind in the Midwest and one of only a few in the nation, although Higgins said person-centered care is at the center of an emerging movement to create necessary change in the healthcare industry.

"If you look at all the ways in which otherwise well-intentioned systems allow people to fall through the cracks, there are a lot of ways and they need addressing," he said. "A lot has to change."

The healthcare industry's challenges are global, but Higgins said change begins at the grassroots level.

"Healthcare is basically a local business," said Higgins. "There has to be a resource for training, for education, for policy development and program development that you turn to in your own community. There has to be a resource to get other players involved and talking to each other, to get access to best practices and up-to-the-moment thinking.

"And St. Ambrose is ideally suited for that. Our aspiration is to provide education and leadership for the integration of health and social delivery to improve health outcomes."

Toward that end, the Institute will provide workforce development and continuing education through existing St. Ambrose CHHS programs and through the newly created Master of Public Health degree program. The Institute also will host conferences bringing industry leaders together in the Quad Cities to discuss innovative models and methods to advance person-centered care.

"If you're going to do problem-solving at the community level, then there has to be a way to bring the community together and solve the problem," Higgins said. "That is a big part of what I see the Institute doing. There is plenty of room at the table for people who want to be leaders. We want to be empowering."

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