Annual Report: 2018 Year in Review

“Excellence is just the beginning.” It’s a simple statement, but we think it captures the essence of who Rush is and where we're going. In five words, we communicate Rush’s long-held commitment to going above and beyond in everything we do — from care and innovation to education and connecting with the diverse communities we serve. In 2018 people and programs across Rush achieved new standards of the highest quality, work that was bolstered by philanthropy. These are just a few of those stories.

Excellence begins with quality

“Through new approaches to hospital quality and greater, more efficient access to records, we can help patients find the right doctors and assemble the best care teams possible more quickly than ever before.” — Omar Lateef, DO, Chief Medical Officer of Rush University Medical Center and the Rush System

Deciding which hospital is right for a patient is exceptionally complicated. Patients often go to multiple medical centers for their diverse care needs, transferring their records to each new location. Additionally, year after year, more organizations are rating hospitals on a slew of different factors. With tremendous advances in record access and file sharing using mobile devices, there should be a way for health care professionals to bring together all of their patients’ medical data, and for patients to make sense of ratings and rankings to find the providers they need. Rush has the tools to make this a reality.

Our nationally renowned Information Technology team led by Shafiq Rab, MBBS, MPH, CHCIO, chief information officer and senior vice president at Rush, developed the MyRush Mobile app, which allows patients access to their full medical history on their smartphones. The app also equips their health care team with that data to ensure continuity of care and better find the right solutions for patients’ unique challenges. The app is one of the nation’s first to give Medicare patients full access to their claims and health records. Our staff also led improvement efforts nationally in the ways hospitals are ranked by U.S. News & World Report and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, two of the highest-regarded benchmarks for hospital quality. The findings set in motion changes to both organizations’ approaches to their ratings. 

Now Rab and Lateef are working with a national team of innovation leaders in health care to combine the science of the mobile app with accurate ratings to improve access, transparency and communication for all patients.

Leveraging technology to improve care

Rush is a nationally recognized leader in using information technology to achieve better outcomes, lower costs and improve the patient experience. Read more about how Rush’s excellence in IT led to presenting the MyRush Mobile app at the White House.

Excellence begins with forward-thinking education

“Our learners get a rare, front row seat to the transformation of American health care. We see firsthand the challenges providers are facing, which allows us to actively solve these problems while building leading-edge education and training programs that complement this rapidly evolving environment.” — Sherine Gabriel, MD, MSc, President of Rush University and Chief Academic Officer of the Rush System

Our nation’s health hinges on the availability of a highly skilled workforce. With the ever-changing needs of our diverse communities, health care demands practicing providers who are well-trained and informed on the latest advances. This, combined with an aging population and a shrinking number of providers, places enormous pressure on health care education. With a fully integrated University and health care system, Rush is ideally positioned to prepare the next generation of practitioners, scientists and leaders through firsthand experiences, state-of-the-art technology and real-world application.

Under the direction of its new President Sherine Gabriel, MD, MSc, Rush University is engineering innovative solutions to prepare professionals for tomorrow’s health care challenges. Rush’s Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program provides a bridge for students from a variety of backgrounds to pursue health care careers, ultimately improving the cultural competency of the industry’s workforce. And Rush University’s new Continuing and Professional Studies program fills gaps in care through innovative training and ensures that seasoned providers stay up-to-date on novel technologies and concepts. Programs like these are building and enriching a diverse, interprofessional workforce with the knowledge, skills and behaviors to sustainably meet the needs of the health market far into the future.

Preparing tomorrow's workforce

Appointed in October 2018 as the first Rush University president solely devoted to leading the academic institution, Sherine Gabriel, MD, MSc, knows well the complexities and opportunities of leading a fully integrated academic medical center — having worked for nearly 30 years at Mayo Clinic. Further building on Rush University’s innovative programs, Gabriel will play a key role in ensuring the next generation of providers is prepared to combat any challenge of tomorrow.

Learn more from Dr. Gabriel on how Rush is anticipating the health care needs of tomorrow while training its workforce today.

Excellence begins with community vitality

“We have been committed to helping kids on the West Side for over two decades, but people aren’t born as data points — for them, it’s about that one experience, that one mentor or that one conversation that can change their life, health and wellbeing forever.” — Darlene Hightower, Vice President of Community Health Equity at Rush

Over the next decade, health care jobs will grow substantially, but low high school and college graduation rates limit the number of students qualified to gain access to these careers. What’s more, the greatest driver in increasing life expectancy in low-income communities, such as those on Chicago’s West Side, is educational attainment. To strengthen the economic vitality of these neighborhoods, increase postsecondary education and improve overall quality of life, the Rush Education and Career Hub, or REACH, provides hands-on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, learning to under-represented youth so they can reach their academic and professional potential.

With support from The Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Dow, Michael Reese Health Trust and other donors, REACH provides a variety of programming at Rush and local West Side schools, all while expanding career paths, developing a best-in-class talent pipeline and providing access to health insurance and other social determinants of health. And the program is just one part of Rush’s larger, overall effort to create health equity in all its communities and beyond.

Building a pipeline to high-tech careers

Learn more about Rush’s Health IT Pathways program, funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co., which provides West Side high school students with information technology training and career opportunities.

Excellence begins with cancer innovation

“We are going to develop an exceptional cancer center of multidisciplinary teams and comprehensive services across the Rush System. It’s not one place — it’s a network.” — Mia Levy, MD, PhD, Director, Rush University Cancer Center

Cancer research and treatment have reached a pivotal moment when health care providers can efficiently analyze each individual patient’s case at molecular and genetic levels. We know more about treating the whole patient using supportive services and data technology, and can more specifically handle each case thanks to breakthroughs in clinical trials — several of which have been led by the internationally renowned staff in Rush’s cancer program. But only a few medical centers in the country can perform comprehensive genetic testing and align specific treatment for each patient’s unique cancer case, bolstered by the best treatment options, expert multidisciplinary teams, clinical trials and strategic partnerships, all in one place. Rush has laid the groundwork to join those few.

Mia Levy, MD, PhD, a Rush Medical College graduate whose mother was treated at Rush for cancer, was appointed in late 2018 as Rush’s new cancer center director. Levy, a practicing breast cancer oncologist and a nationally recognized leader in bioinformatics, has taken the lead on growing Rush’s program into a destination cancer center: one that attracts patients from across the country, with data-informed care and advice that’s unmatched in the Chicago region. The program will be centered in Rush’s planned 10-story outpatient building — the physical hub of a system-wide approach to cancer care — scheduled to open in 2022.

Fostering cancer breakthroughs

Levy brings to Rush ample experience building data-driven, clinical decision support across cancer care and research efforts. Read more about Levy’s work prior to joining Rush.

A $5 million gift from Robert E. and Emily H. King will accelerate blood cancer immunotherapy research and the development of new treatment options. Read more.

Excellence begins with inclusive research

“To better learn what causes Alzheimer’s, we try to eliminate barriers that may keep older and minority populations from participating in key studies. We go right to their homes, and we can respectfully find the answers to our questions.” — Lisa Barnes, PhD, the Alla V. Solomon Jesmer Professor of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine at Rush

Research has demonstrated that Alzheimer’s disease is two to three times more common among African-Americans than whites. But no one is sure exactly why. Researchers at Rush are trying to answer this important question. African-Americans have been less likely to participate in studies, but for too long, researchers were not addressing the reasons for lower participation, resulting in less data from this population — data that could help establish better treatments and prevention for Alzheimer’s. To arrive at those breakthroughs, researchers also need to work outside of the lab and connect directly with the communities most affected by the disease to find the specific root causes.

Lisa Barnes, PhD, brought her research efforts directly into the homes of minorities after joining Rush in 1999. She developed the Minority Aging Research Study in 2004 to collect data from populations who have not been represented as well in studies as white populations. The result, so far, has uncovered a number of risk factors that appear to be related to rate of cognitive decline and risk of disease in African-Americans. Researchers in the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, including Barnes, are conducting unique studies in which they evaluate people while they are living to find risk factors for Alzheimer’s, and after they pass away to understand how their brain pathology is associated with their cognitive performance and lifestyle factors. This combined effort of lab science and community engagement during the full arc of a person’s elderly years can bring us closer to solving one of the greatest medical challenges of our time — finding better ways to treat, and eventually cure, Alzheimer’s.

Discovering the best methods to treat and prevent Alzheimer's

Barnes and her colleagues at Rush lead one of the most productive, accomplished and influential Alzheimer’s research programs in the world. Read more about Rush’s various recent milestones in this field.

Excellence begins with serving veterans

“So many veterans struggle to return to their lives that existed before their service. We help them rediscover tranquility and purpose in their civilian lives with support from fellow veterans who best relate to their challenges.” — Rebecca Van Horn, MD, MA, Medical Director at the Road Home Program: The National Center of Excellence for Veterans and Their Families at Rush

More than one-third of veterans return home with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, traumatic brain injury or related mental health conditions associated with their military service. While treatment is never a one-size-fits-all approach, more than half of the veterans in Rush’s Road Home Program’s Intensive Outpatient Program, or IOP, saw rapid and clinically meaningful changes in PTSD and depression symptoms.* A unique three-week treatment initiative, the IOP targets the driving factors behind veterans’ specific experiences that caused physical, mental and emotional injury through group and individual psychotherapy and novel approaches to stress reduction, including physical fitness, wellness and mindfulness.

The Road Home Program developed this particular programming through its participation in Warrior Care Network® — a first-of-its-kind partnership between Wounded Warrior Project®, or WWP, and four academic medical centers in the U.S. Early funding from WWP laid the groundwork for launching the IOP, while Welcome Back Veterans, an initiative of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and Major League Baseball, also served as an early pillar of support for Road Home’s unique treatments. Now, expanding on their initial gift, WWP’s $45 million grant will broaden the IOP’s reach, providing mental health care services without cost to an expected 5,000 veterans or their family members over the next five years.

*According to results of a study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center

Customizing care for veterans

The Road Home Program: The National Center of Excellence for Veterans and Their Families at Rush opened in 2014 to help military veterans and their families make healthier transitions to civilian life by offering specialized mental health care, regardless of the ability to pay. Learn more about the incredible outcomes of the Road Home Program's Intensive Outpatient Program.