Earlier this fall, Austin’s Community Care Collaborative (CCC) sat down with Dr. Amy Young of Dell Medical School after she presented on women’s health to Central Health staff and Community Health Champions. Learn about her work and the school’s efforts in the following Q&A by CCC.
Dr. Amy Young, a nationally-known educator, is the inaugural Chair of the Department of Women’s Health and a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Dell Medical School. Dr. Young moved to Austin recently from her position as Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Louisiana State University to be a catalyst for change in women’s health.
Here in Austin and Travis County, Dr. Young is leading change in how women receive care by improving and integrating health care delivery systems and practices, and by training the next generation of doctors in these new models of care to better prepare them for the future.
What are some key Dell Medical School women’s health initiatives? How is Dell Med doing women’s health differently?
The Dell Medical School’s vision for women’s health in Travis County is centered on equality in care delivery across the lifecycle of a woman from birth to death, regardless of her need or ability to pay. Right now the scope of care focuses on pregnancy for the most part, and uses a fee-for-service model that does not promote health and prevention the same ways as a value-based approach. The need for better women’s health care is seen across the country.
What Dell Med is doing differently is standardizing care where possible, engaging community-based organizations and stakeholders, and using existing resources to develop new sustainable programs that will systematically fill gaps in support. We will also be educating the next generation of physician leaders to think differently about how care is delivered.
Key initiatives for women’s health include perinatal care redesign, new care delivery models around reduction of preterm birth and improved outcomes, and the creation of Complex Gynecologic Integrated Practice Units or IPUs.
What are some of the biggest challenges you are addressing in your work to redesign women’s health services?
A key focus for us is ensuring timely care and improving health outcomes for uninsured women through improved care integration. In terms of Complex Gynecologic Care for this population, these conditions are by their nature challenging because they are highly complex and intersect with other conditions and each other. Another challenge is that today we lack a clear system or process for diagnosis and treatment of complex gynecologic conditions. Stigma associated with these conditions often interferes in women seeking care. Many women are too embarrassed to seek help, and/or ignore these health problems, thinking that they are a normal part of aging.
How are current events like Zika affecting the need for women’s health services and outreach efforts here in Texas?
Ziki is a complicated issue for our patient population. We know little about the disease process, who it will affect, and how significantly they will be affected. The most appropriate management strategies will be in prevention. In order to prevent the disease, we must improve adequate mosquito abatement treatments for which federal support has yet to come. Pregnant patients are recommended to employ appropriate sanitation recommendations (avoid standing water, etc.) and to utilize mosquito repellent including DEET. Patients are being requested not to travel to endemic areas, and if there partners are going into endemic areas, to utilize condoms to prevent sexual transmission of the virus. In addition, while there is not a recommendation to avoid pregnancy, for those patients who wish to delay pregnancies, access to effective contraception is a necessity.
With the new medical school being on the leading edge of health care design and technology, can you give me some ways your initiatives will intersect with new design and/or technological advances and research?
At Dell Med we are working on reorganizing the delivery system around patient needs while integrating other providers and resources, both human and technological, to create a single-center location for diagnosis and treatment. When possible we will locate care close to the patient’s home or workplace, or provide convenience for the patient to access these services through virtual methods that are being developed.