UCSF Medical Center CEO to Lead National Board for Medical Colleges

By Leland Kim

Mark R. Laret, chief executive officer of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, has been elected by his peers as chair of the board of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). His term will run until November 2012.

The appointment of Laret, a 30-year veteran of health care management and a national leader in quality, safety, the patient experience and reform, was announced at this week’s AAMC 2011 Annual Meeting.

The AAMC represents the interests of 135 U.S. and 17 Canadian accredited medical schools, and nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, before Congress, federal regulatory agencies, and the executive branch on a wide range of health care issues. AAMC medical schools train 70 percent of all resident physicians, and AAMC member hospitals account for nearly one-quarter of all hospital admissions. They also provide nearly half of all hospital charity care nationwide.

UCSF Medical Center, including UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, is one of the nation's top 10 hospitals, and provides primary and highly specialized care at two major sites in San Francisco as well as clinics in several other locations.  An academic medical center, it is an integral part of the University of California, San Francisco, a leading university with advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions.

“The U.S. health care system and our precious medical education, research and clinical enterprises are at an historic crossroads.  My focus is to fight to preserve the best of our current system, but simultaneously push ourselves to usher in a new era where we are more efficient and effective in carrying out our missions,” said Laret, who has represented the interests of academic medical centers before Congress, the Obama administration, and federal agencies on issues of quality, safety, financing of medical care, access for the underserved, and innovations in health care delivery.

"We are grateful for Mark's long-standing commitment to the AAMC, and we look forward to his leadership as the incoming board chair. Mark has been an active leader of the association, having served on the board of directors since its inception in 2008, and has contributed greatly to the strength of our governance," said AAMC president and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD.

Laret’s appointment comes at an especially interesting time as reform changes the landscape of health care.  With approximately 770,000 patient visits a year and $1.6 billion in annual revenue, UCSF Medical Center receives no state money. In addition to fostering ongoing clinical innovation and attracting the nation’s leading experts in virtually all specialties, the hospital provides funding for the research and education mission of the university and training for the next generation of clinicians.

“Everyone in health care has been challenged to deliver more care of higher quality with fewer resources. The trifold mission of academic medical centers – teaching, research and patient care – makes this a particularly complex task,” said Laret. “However, I’m optimistic that we will succeed. It’s precisely this combination of diverse expertise that has made academic medical centers and schools of medicine the leaders in innovative approaches to health care solutions.”

As a teaching hospital backed by a university, UCSF Medical Center handles the most specialized cases in the world, and has the ability to quickly translate research into more effective care. Fetal surgery not only was pioneered at UCSF, but recently has been shown to increase the chances of walking for babies with a form of spina bifida.

Leadership of an academic medical center requires tight partnerships between the hospital CEO and the deans of health professional schools, to deliver on the trifold mission of patient care, education and research.

“Mark fully understands that in an academic health system, patient care, research and education are equally critical. He has been an invaluable partner in seamlessly integrating these three missions at the UCSF Medical Center,” said Sam Hawgood, MBBS, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and vice chancellor of medical affairs. “The medical center delivers world-class care and will continue to do so in the future, through the next generation of physicians and health professionals who train here, and through advances in medical research brought to the bedside by our clinical scientists.” 

Prior to joining UCSF, Laret served at UCLA Medical Center from 1980 to 1995 in a variety of leadership positions, and from 1995 to 2000, he was CEO of UC Irvine Medical Center.

Since his arrival at UCSF in 2000, Laret has transformed UCSF Medical Center from a financially challenged institution to an economically viable one. During this time, he reversed a $60 million annual loss to a $70 million annual gain that has allowed the medical center to expand and update its facilities, in addition to making advances in the quality of care, patient safety and patient satisfaction.

Laret also successfully launched the concept and construction of a new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, which will open in 2015. The $1.5 billion project will set a world-class standard for patient- and family-centered care, sustainability and translational medicine.

He is a former chair of the national Council of Teaching Hospitals and has been a member of the board of directors of the University HealthSystem Consortium and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. On the local and state level, Laret is on the board of trustees of the California Hospital Association and is a former chair of the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California. He co-chairs the San Francisco African American Health Disparity Project, working to improve the health status of African Americans and their access to care.

About UCSF and UCSF Medical Center

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. All four UCSF professional health sciences schools, virtually all UCSF graduate programs, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital rank among the best in the country in the latest surveys by US News & World Report and other agencies.

UCSF Medical Center consistently ranks as one of the top 10 hospitals in the United States and is recognized for innovative treatments, advanced technology, collaboration among health care professionals and scientists, and a highly compassionate patient care team. The medical center's nationally preeminent programs include children's health, the brain and nervous system, organ transplantation, women's health and cancer. It operates as a self-supporting enterprise within UCSF and generates its own revenues to cover the operating costs of providing patient care.  

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.

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