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Cullen Trust For Higher Education Driving Shift to Health Care Value With $5 Million Gift to Dell Medical School

Dec. 18, 2018

AUSTIN, Texas — The Houston-based Cullen Trust for Higher Education, part of the Cullen Foundation, has pledged $5 million to Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin to help accelerate the transformation to high-value health care delivery.

The gift will support the work of the Value Institute for Health and Care, a joint venture between Dell Med and UT Austin’s McCombs School of Business. The Value Institute works to redefine health care by accelerating adoption of high-value health care in practice, enabling measurement of meaningful health outcomes for individuals and families and creating distinctive educational programs in value-based care delivery and strategy.

Specifically, the gift will help to launch the Value Institute’s new, one-year Master of Science in Health Transformation program, which is jointly offered by the two schools and is currently accepting applications. It also creates the Cullen Trust for Higher Education Distinguished University Chair in Value-Based Care for Dell Medical School, which will be held by Elizabeth Teisberg, Ph.D., executive director of the institute. Teisberg is an internationally recognized expert in transformational innovation and the implementation of high-value health care and her groundbreaking book “Redefining Health Care,” co-authored in 2006 with Harvard Business School’s Michael Porter, introduced the concept of value to health care delivery.

“The challenges for transforming health care are huge, yet the goal is simple,” Teisberg said. “The purpose of health care is improving health: capability, comfort and calm in the lives of the individuals and families we serve. This generous support is critical to redefining health care delivery for this fundamental purpose.”

Value-based health care, a core focus of Dell Med, represents a shift from the current volume-based, fee-for-service system that defines success by the number of procedures, tests and visits, to a value-based model that defines success as improving health outcomes for individuals and families and thus improving health care value.

“Our current health care system’s business model is backward: it rewards medical providers for the process, not the results,” said Clay Johnston, M.D., Ph.D., inaugural Dell Med dean. “The goal of health care should not be more treatment; the goal should be better health. This critical support acknowledges that only by linking business and medicine can we create new models to realign health care with society’s interests.”

“UT’s Dell Med and McCombs School of Business are uniquely qualified to initiate a patient care delivery and payment system that provides better outcomes,” said Corbin Robertson Jr., chair of the Cullen Trust for Higher Education. “The antiquated U.S. payment system is the highest cost in the world and yet it does not provide better outcomes. We are proud of Dr. Teisberg, Dean Hartzell and Dean Johnston’s efforts to deliver value to their patients’ good health,” said Robertson, a UT Austin Distinguished Alumnus who earned his undergraduate degree in business in 1969.

A New Hub for Innovation in Value-Based Health Care

“The Value Institute for Health and Care is an ideal bridge between the schools of business and medicine and Dr. Teisberg and her team are positioning UT Austin as a new hub for value-based care,” said McCombs Dean Jay Hartzell. “The launch of a one-of-a-kind master’s degree program is a perfect example of that and something we expect will have great impact on the industry.”

The M.S. in Health Care Transformation is designed for working health professionals, such as practicing physicians and other clinicians, as well as up-and-coming leaders across the health care sector. Dell Med students also can complete the yearlong master’s degree during their third year of medical school.

Beyond the new master’s program, support from the Cullen Trust for Higher Education will be used to:

  • Expand an executive education curriculum that emphasizes how to implement and scale high-value health care strategies;
  • Develop innovation insights to drive high-value care at UT Health Austin, Dell Med’s clinical practice;
  • Accelerate research on organizations implementing high-value care; and
  • Produce new knowledge about how teams and organizations measure outcomes ad successfully transition to value-­based care.

The Cullen Trust for Higher Education is one of three trusts that are part of the larger Cullen Foundation, which has distributed more than $500 million in grants since being established in 1947. The Cullen Trust for Higher Education has pledged more than $14 million to UT Austin since 1983, with gifts to date totaling nearly $10 million.