Medical Center Board Welcomes New Health System Leader

September 23, 2013

Dr. Richard P. Shannon, the University of Virginia’s new executive vice president for health affairs, outlined his goals for the Health System – which include making U.Va. a national leader in patient safety – at Thursday’s Medical Center Operating Board meeting.

“We will be the safest place to receive care,” he said.

Patient safety improvements are critical to patients’ well-being, he said, and are also vital to making health care more efficient.

Another key to better patient safety, he said, is worker safety. A precondition for excellent performance, Shannon said, is ensuring an environment where employees are “emotionally, physically and professionally safe.”

Shannon is well-suited to build on the Health System’s ongoing efforts to improve patient safety based on his leadership roles at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, where he most recently served as chairman of the Department of Medicine. He is “nationally recognized for his work on patient safety and patient care innovation,” U.Va., President Teresa A. Sullivan said in introducing Shannon to the board.

Like all hospital leaders, Shannon faces a health care field undergoing significant changes now and in the years to come. But board co-chair Dr. Stephen P. Long said the Health System is ready to adapt to the changing environment. “The Health System is in a very good position operationally and financially to meet these challenges,” he said.

As an example, Shannon saluted three recently initiated U.Va. programs designed to reduce hospital readmissions. Two programs – Hospital to Home and Heart Health @ Home – have already helped reduce the number of readmissions of heart failure patients. The third program, U.Va.’s Care Coordination Center, was launched earlier this month to help reduce readmissions among patients with heart failure, pneumonia, COPD and those who have suffered heart attacks.

Shannon also highlighted the U.Va. Center for Telehealth, recently cited in Time magazine for its efforts to improve care by using technology. “These initiatives are achieving outstanding results,” he said.

Shannon said his excitement about becoming the Health System’s leader is exceeded only by his “expectations of what we will accomplish together.” He will formally assume his role no later than Nov. 1.

Media Contact

Eric Swensen

UVA Health System