Why Research is Important to the Intermountain Healthcare Mission

By Larry Hancock

We’re conducting approximately 600 research projects in the Urban Central Region of Intermountain Healthcare – Intermountain Medical Center, LDS Hospital, Alta View Hospital, Riverton Hospital and TOSH–The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital. There’s a simple reason why those projects are important to us: Because they’re important to the community. Research helps us improve the quality of the care we offer to the people who count on us for care.

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THREE KEY FACTS you should know about the research we do:

First, medical research in the Urban Central Region complements Intermountain’s mission by helping us create (and continually improve) the best practices we use to provide care. Fulfilling our mission of excellence in the provision of healthcare services requires us to provide the best possible clinical outcomes for the most efficient possible cost — and research helps us do it. The research we do expands our patients’ access to a wide variety of treatment options. It helps us find breakthroughs and clinical advances that help us improve clinical quality.

Every patient treated at any Urban Central Region facility contributes to the data we use for formal learning. Intermountain thus stands as an example of a learning healthcare system, where the state-of-the-art patient care we provide every day produces rapid advances in formal medical knowledge.

Research creates a cycle of creating, and continually improving, the best practices we use. As our physicians and care providers use our computer system to track treatments and outcomes, they develop best practice protocols based on the data they collect. Following those best practices helps us deliver the best medical outcomes as efficiently as possible without the variation and waste that drive up costs. Our clinicians can depart from a best practice if they choose in order to meet a patient’s individual needs, but no matter what treatment they choose, outcomes are tracked and analyzed, which leads to a cycle of continual improvement.

Second, research benefits our patients — and Intermountain Healthcare. It helps us attract leading physicians, nurses, and other caregivers who are interested in the world-class clinical investigations that lead to better patient care. And again, there’s a cyclical effect: The research we’re doing today enhances our reputation in the United States and around the world, and our growing reputation helps us attract more outstanding clinicians who are interested in joining us to help expand the frontiers of medical science in the future.

Third, three practical priorities shape the research projects we choose to pursue:

  • We support studies that have the specific potential to improve Intermountain’s care delivery processes for the patients we directly serve, while also advancing general medical knowledge. Often these studies are linked to Intermountain’s Clinical Programs, which oversee care delivery performance within the Intermountain system.
  • The studies initiated by our clinician-researchers usually are conducted with external funding and pursued as part of academic collaborations. Seed funding for our research often comes from the Intermountain Research and Medical Foundation. As those projects show the promise of expanding medical knowledge, they attract sponsors and partners who support studies that are larger in scale.
  • We sometimes participate in multi-center trials sponsored by industry-based national groups.

I’m grateful to the researchers throughout the Urban Central Region who help us better serve our patients and fulfill our mission — and I appreciate all the people here and throughout the community who support our research projects. If you want to help us support research funding, learn more about the Intermountain Research and Medical Foundation.