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Champions of Healing and Hope
By Utah Business Editors | Photography by Brandon Flint
October 8, 2013
With rare exception, patients are not happy about engaging with the healthcare system. They are often frightened—of procedures, of potential outcomes, of the expense—and they are often confused, set loose in a place where they are unfamiliar with the jargon and rules. Our Healthcare Heroes go above and beyond to alleviate fear and confusion, to reduce expense and to focus on best outcomes. These heroes are pioneering new treatments and processes, providing compassionate care and honing in on best practices. And some are simply there at the bedside, willing to hold a patient’s hand and listen. Please join us as we pay tribute to these inspiring Healthcare Heroes.
Dr. Randall Burt
Senior Director of Prevention and Outreach/Professor
Huntsman Cancer Institute/Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology
Dr. Randall Burt has played a major role in the establishment and continuity of the Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) since its founding in 1999—and although he’s planning on retiring later this year, his service has forever changed the medical world.
Mary Beckerle, CEO and director of HCI, says Burt is an internationally renowned figure in gastroenterology and cancer genetics. During his time at HCI, Burt helped to create the paradigm in which colon cancer initiation and development is viewed, obtained the genetic resources needed to fight it, and established the clinical practice guidelines physicians use to treat patients.
“Dr. Burt developed a high-risk registry to enable genetic studies and allow precise tracking of patients for cancer prevention,” Beckerle says. “[He] used this registry to recruit, characterize and manage data on families with increased colon cancer risk. He [established] our understanding that adenomatous polyps are precursors in the development of colorectal cancer and that genetic changes lead to the disease.”
Because of this, colon cancer screening and prevention efforts in the large Utah kindred studied by Burt have led to an 87 percent decrease in attributable colon cancer incidence.
Dr. David A. Burton
Executive Chairman of the Board
Dr. David Burton’s career has focused not only on healing patients, but also on healing healthcare.
His early career included a residency at Harvard, a two-year tour of duty with the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s Office, and nine years as president of a single-specialty practice of emergency physicians. In 1982, he joined the senior management team at Intermountain Healthcare and became the founding CEO of Intermountain’s managed-care division, which is today known as SelectHealth and provides coverage to more than 500,000 people.
Burton was one of the architects of Intermountain’s clinical integration strategies, which uses data to bring about changes in how physicians provide care, in an effort to reduce costs and improve patient outcomes. He also helped bring about changes in management structures to coincide with Intermountain’s new standardized care practices.
Intermountain quickly began to see improvements and has been recognized multiple times as the nation’s No.1 integrated health system, based on efficiency, communication, cost and quality of care. “Times of turbulence represent times of opportunity,” Burton says.
Burton retired in 2008 after 27 years at Intermountain, but came out of retirement to chair the board of Health Catalyst, a startup company that helps hospitals and clinics manage and evaluate their data to improve care and reduce costs. He helped translate the successes he’d had at Intermountain into a system that could be adapted to help both large and small healthcare providers improve efficiency and outcomes.
“Dr. Burton is one of the most gifted, articulate and intelligent persons I have ever met,” says Steven C. Barlow, co-founder and former CEO of Health Catalyst. “His contributions to this community and industry are vast and far reaching.”
Dr. Greg Elliott
Chairman, Department of Medicine Intermountain Medical Center
Professor of Medicine
University of Utah School of Medicine
Dr. Greg Elliott has been on the forefront of research and treatment of pulmonary hypertension for more than three decades. When he first joined the field, not much was known about the disease, which is caused by high blood pressure in the arteries to the lungs, and most pulmonary hypertension patients died from its effects.
“In 1981, I was provided the opportunity to serve as principal investigator for studies of severe pulmonary hypertension, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health,” says Elliott. He organized research and educational programs both locally and nationally. “This work, and the collaborations that were established, led to important breakthroughs in the understanding and treatment of a progressive, fatal disease.”