University Explores Big Ideas Generated in UCSF2025

By Lisa Cisneros

For two days in September, UCSF faculty, staff, students and others opined around the clock in an online game designed to answer this question: “What if you could map the future of UCSF in just 36 hours?”

Ideas ranging from new data sharing, collaborating and learning at a distance, using digital tools to enhance the practice of medicine and expanding partnerships across UCSF and around the world abounded in UC San Francisco’s first-ever social gaming experience designed to envision the future of UCSF in the year 2025.

Teams and individuals representing schools, affiliates and departments from across the University shared their thoughts from their offices, conference rooms, campus common areas, and from their homes and several countries around the world.

Bold Ideas Emerge in Five Key Themes

The five key themes that emerged from UCSF2025 which are now being examined and discussed in workshops with a cross-section of UCSF representatives are:

  • Negotiate new partnerships: Collaborate on health data, leverage resources within and across the UC system, build the bio-Silicon Valley and partner with K-12;
  • Pioneer new funding models: Develop expertise in boomers, master crowdfunding and explore new currencies for exchange;
  • Rethink research and publication: Lead in simulation, revamp the publishing process, create shared platforms for protocols and develop strength in translating basic research;
  • Re-envision health sciences education: Create open learning systems, strategically leverage massively open online courses and get creative about space;
  • Transform patient care: Move precision medicine upstream, highlight human connection in community and innovate technology infrastructure for learning and patient-centered care.

UCSF2.0: Charting the Course Forward

Read UCSF2025 executive summary (PDF)

Send questions to [email protected]

UCSF 2025 Generates Ideas to Enhance Campus Life in Health, Wellness

UCSF2025 Game Winners Make Their Voices Heard

In the end, 2,583 players, including employees, students, alumni, and friends of UCSF, registered to play, posting 24,711 ideas and surpassing records for both participation and speed of play in a game like this, according to Institute for the Future (IFTF), UCSF’s partner in the effort.

“UCSF was the first university to attempt this kind of a game on this scale, and it was a resounding success,” UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, said during her recent State of the University address. “Over the next few months, we’ll be honing the ideas from the game through a series of workshops across the campus to help craft the vision for what we’re calling UCSF 2.0. As with the game, we’re counting on your help.”

Indeed, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Jeff Bluestone, PhD, encourages an ongoing discussion to move forward UCSF 2.0, a multi-phased project to chart the future direction of the University.

UCSF game ambassadors and IFTF helped conduct a series of focus groups and workshops to give members of the campus community and game players an opportunity to elaborate on the short, Twitter-like comments that emerged from the game. 

The UCSF 2.0 leadership team and I are very appreciative of your help and enthusiasm in exploring and shaping major themes that emerged from the UCSF2025 game as part of the second phase of the UCSF 2.0 project,” Bluestone said. “Thank you for setting in motion dialogue and advancing great ideas. The work you accomplished with your facilitators and recorders has been shared with the Institute for the Future to further inform our process going forward.

Importantly, the conversation will move online to the newly created “Inside UCSF” blog, a virtual town square for the internal UCSF community to share ideas and news.

The overarching goal of UCSF 2.0 is to ensure the University’s continued innovation across its mission areas of patient care, research and education over the next decade and beyond. If all goes according to plan, UCSF will develop the best bold ideas into an action plan to be shared widely by mid-2014 for implementation through 2025.

UCSF2025 game player affiliation as self-selected during pre-registration. Click on

the image to view a larger version.

Meanwhile, the University will be engaged in implementing short-term plans, including the UCSF clinical enterprise strategic plan that was unveiled at a recent town hall meeting. That plan, to anticipate changes in the health care delivery environment and improve UCSF's clinical care from 2014 to 2019, involves cross-campus and medical center collaboration on a number of initiatives.

“Many of the ideas that we saw in the game complement the proposals outlined in our strategic planning efforts to encourage innovation, foster next-generation education and drive precision medicine forward,” said Mark Laret, chief executive officer of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. “UCSF 2025 showed us that the University community wants to be involved in planning for the future. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be calling on our faculty and staff to help us achieve our collective vision.”

With an unprecedented number of participants and cards played, gameplay in UCSF2025 was fast-paced and exciting, bringing out the competitive nature of people inside and outside the University.

The high-scoring Team Procurement continues to meet to talk through how their ideas may be developed and pursued. And team Aging, a group of about 30 people in the Geriatrics Division in the schools of medicine and nursing, finished in second-place in the game with 77,744 forecasting points. That team is pursuing ideas around establishing a UCSF institute, leveraging technology to help older adults and improving patient transitions.

“Given our many strengths in education, science, clinical care, we should really be leading with this issue that’s costing a fortune, stressing health systems, but also showing huge potential in creating systems that are beneficial to patients,” said Louise Aronson, a geriatrician.

Ivayla Ivanova, known as "Esther," was the highest-scoring individual during the game accumulating 96,134 forecasting points. She recently was invited to UCSF to meet with other UCSF2025 gamers who were impressed with her prolific ideas.

Exploring Big Ideas Further

When compiling the post-game analysis, the game’s most prominent “builds” or conversation chains of big ideas are now the focus of workshop brainstorming to define a path forward.

Often these “big builds” unfolded from an initial, seemingly simple idea that then sparked a robust, innovative conversation. In this game, the biggest build was 781 ideas deep.

UCSF2025 game theme clusters showing inter-relationships of ideas. Click on the

image to view a larger version.

Topics of these big builds ranged from strategic directions around aging and open science to operational priorities like how to rethink space use and cut the costs of education.

Staff members like John Kealy of ITS quickly rose to the top of the leaderboard after posting his bold idea about UCSF championing “open science.” Open science was one of the cards most built upon during game play.

Like many who played UCSF2025, Kealy looks forward to finding out what happens next. “It will be interesting to see what comes out of this exercise. It was pretty fun and I think a lot of people enjoyed the exercise,” he said. 

Ideas like championing open science, which could further the national movement to make science freely accessible, will require making cultural and operational shifts. Ultimately, all the big ideas will depend upon champions to lead and interdisciplinary teams to execute.

For example, Kimberly Topp, chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, considered how UCSF could be “ranked No. 1 for patient experience in the world.” Her idea was fairly simple: “Each patient who comes to a UCSF clinic or hospital gets a student advocate!” In such a scenario, patients would learn from students and vice versa.

For the UCSF community, the game gave them an opportunity to build ongoing relationships that will be necessary to realize UCSF’s vision to lead revolutions in health.

“What better way for students to learn first-hand the very real challenges of navigating the health care system? Through student advocates, UCSF patients will be empowered to help interprofessional student teams solve problems, and thus drive progress in our health care delivery system.”