"When I first came to work for the Department almost 30 years ago, we had 11 clinics taking up about half of the third floor of Taubman Center. In that time there has been a massive expansion of our services. Multiple off-site locations have been developed and we’re now seeing twice as many patients at Taubman alone. In fact, internal medicine is now providing care for half of all adults who use the U-M Health System." - Dr. Timothy Laing
Our clinical programs experienced a great leap in demand in 2016. Our volume of ambulatory care and specialty care visits both on- and off-site continues to grow. Michigan Medicine’s outpatient facilities in Ann Arbor, Livonia and Brighton continue to perform well; our new center in Northville is already being used close to capacity. There are already plans to explore building a similar facility at this site in order to meet the demand for services. We continue to seek out and implement new approaches to respond to patient care needs in all areas.
In 2017, Michigan Medicine expanded its healthcare services with the relocation and reopening of the West Ann Arbor Health Center-Parkland Plaza. This facility hosts dozens of ambulatory care specialties, including more than half of the Department of Internal Medicine specialties.
In Brighton, a $175 million ambulatory care facility is currently being built south of Challis Road on 32 acres owned by Michigan Medicine. The new building will be close to U-M’s current Brighton Health Center. It is expected to house more than 40 University of Michigan specialty services to children and adults. This facility is expected to open in fall 2018.
Our new 22-bed short-stay unit staffed by our Hospitalist Service has been a great success, providing more efficient use of inpatient and palliative care beds. There are now plans for an inpatient tower expansion during 2017 that is estimated to be completed in 2022. This will allow us to convert 120 of our current beds from semi-private to private rooms.
Clinical Scheduling Improvements
The Department of Internal Medicine was the first department at Michigan Medicine to work with Chartis Group Consulting last year to explore ways to make our clinical scheduling process more efficient and accessible. Our goal is to enable 80 percent of our new patients to schedule an appointment within two weeks.
The University of Michigan is part of an American Association of Medical Colleges initiative to increase access to and efficiency of specialty medical services by improving collaboration and communication between primary care and specialty physicians. The initiative called Project CORE - Coordinating Optimal Referral Experiences - uses tools in the electronic medical record, or EMR, to refine the referral process.
Led by internal medicine faculty member Robert Ernst, MD, clinical assistant professor and senior associate chief of general medicine for ambulatory care, CORE encourages the use of eConsults and enhanced referrals, both of which are implemented and used by providers in the EMR.
An eConsult allows a primary care physician to electronically consult with a specialist regarding specific questions about a patient’s care plan. The intent is for the specialist to provide guidance on straightforward, low-complexity issues in lieu of an in-person patient visit, so that the patient’s care can remain with the PCP.
More than a quarter of primary care and family medicine physicians have utilized the system since it began. There are hopes to apply CORE in every division and department within the next two years.