Health of the public: The academic response
Health Care Reform
Aging of the population, increasing prevalence of chronic and disabling illnesses with multiple social and behavioral risk factors, concern about quality of care, and escalating costs of medical care require fundamental changes in the way that academic health centers discharge their mission. This article describes a newly developed "Mission Statement" for academic health centers that wish to contribute positively to the health of the populations that they serve. A shift toward addressing the needs of the public may produce increasing institutional strength, long-run stability, and enhanced productivity, as well as higher quality, more cost-effective care for patients. Seventeen centers in the Health of the Public Program are currently conducting activities that implement the described mission elements. The goals and objectives described herein create a foundation for change, with more balanced institutional goals, and could turn an emerging confrontation between academe and its public into an opportunity for both.