Skip to main content

University of Utah Launches Value University, New Online Learning Platform for Health Care Professionals


SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah announced its launch of Value University, or ValueU, on Wednesday, November 11. The free online learning platform and associated national training pilot, made possible with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is designed to equip physicians and other professionals on the front lines of health care with processes for improving the value of care that their patients receive.

Health care is changing rapidly, and today's patients are demanding better value, defined as better quality care and service for lower costs. It's the job of health care professionals to address the difficult dilemmas that stand in the way of value. For example, unplanned hospital readmissions following treatment for heart failure are expensive and decrease patient satisfaction without improving outcomes, but how can they be avoided? It's an issue that leaders of Pocatello, Idaho's Portneuf Medical Center, who participated in the training pilot, are tackling using the ValueU framework.

The pilot, "Becoming a Value Driven Organization," is engaging 10 teams from different health care organizations (including five regional and five national) to learn and share ways to create high-value health care using University of Utah processes. Accompanying the pilot is the open and publicly accessible ValueU training curriculum, which can be completed in one hour for continuing education credit. The training consists of short case studies that follow the true stories of four physicians leading the value revolution at the University of Utah, which has decreased its costs by 0.5 percent annually in recent years while remaining ranked among the top 10 academic medical centers in quality and safety by the University HealthSystem Consortium. In addition to the case studies, a process tool enables health care professionals to put their plans into action and measure their results.

"Classically, health care providers are not trained in any of the competencies around what improving value actually is and means," said Robert Pendleton, M.D., chief medical quality officer at University of Utah Health Care. "We're sharing what we've learned about what centering health care around patients truly means in an efficient package that people can access at their convenience."

"You're analyzing your process so carefully that you can figure out what's wrong and fix it directly," explained Ben Call, M.D., chairman of Portneuf Medical Center.

"We can do small things to make big improvements, and when the teams in our hospitals start to see wins, more people will buy in," said Kari Quickenden, Pharm.D., vice president of clinical services at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County in Rock Springs, Wyo., whose project aims to more quickly identify sepsis in patients.

Details and data for the first 10 projects are available to view on the ValueU website. As results of these and future projects are posted, the site will serve as a growing library dedicated to collaborative, value-based education.

"For me, it is the shared learning that makes this so exciting," Pendleton said. "No one center has all the answers, but we're gaining insights from different places to make things better."