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Crawford Named Senior Associate Dean and Director of New College of Medicine Program
Steven Crawford, M.D.

Crawford Named Senior Associate Dean and Director of New College of Medicine Program


Published: Monday, February 3, 2020

The Office of Healthcare Innovation and Policy was launched to harness resources within the college and across the academic healthcare enterprise to address the social determinants of health - the social factors that significantly impact health conditions among Oklahomans. Crawford has been serving as chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine for 20 years and brings a background and dedication to helping people achieve better health in their own communities.

"As part of an academic health center, a significant part of our mission at the OU College of Medicine is to create partnerships with communities across the state, whether rural or urban, to help people get the resources they need to improve health," said John Zubialde, M.D., Executive Dean of the OU College of Medicine. "Approximately 75% of the care we provide is for people with chronic illness. Once they leave the doctor's office or hospital, they must manage their conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, in their home and community settings. We want to work with communities and health systems to find innovative solutions to support those patients."

Crawford will begin his role with the Office of Healthcare Innovation and Policy by taking an inventory of the numerous resources across campus and coalescing them in a strategic fashion. Crawford has extensive experience with many such projects, including Healthy Hearts for Oklahoma, begun in 2015 with a $15 million federal grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. OU's healthcare providers worked with approximately 300 small primary care clinics across Oklahoma to incorporate and standardize four guidelines known to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease: low-dose aspirin in high-risk patients; controlling blood pressure; cholesterol evaluation; and smoking cessation assistance. OU provided the expertise to help clinics establish guidelines into the regular flow of their practices and the technology to measure outcomes.

Crawford also brings a background in advocacy for healthcare innovation at the state Capitol, as well as policymaking with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which administers the state's Medicaid program. He works closely with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, both the Oklahoma and American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Oklahoma Hospital Association, among others. He is also a leader for the College of Medicine's program to prevent opioid crisis, and he directs a workforce grant to recruit and retain more health professions students from diverse and underserved populations.

"I am grateful to be named to this role and to lead our Office of Healthcare Innovation and Policy," Crawford said. "I believe this type of effort, involving the expertise of people across our campus and state, will improve Oklahoma's health outcomes and the quality of life for people across our state. The medical care we deliver is important, but equally so are the resources for our patients in the communities where they live."

The work of the Office of Healthcare Innovation and Policy also dovetails with that of the OU Hudson College of Public Health, whose focus is the science of protecting and improving the health of people in their communities. The Hudson College of Public Health has strong partnerships across the state and beyond to develop strategies toward improving the health of an entire population, rather than treating acute illnesses as they arise. Social determinants of health range from safe housing and local food markets to educational and job opportunities to socioeconomic conditions, and much more.

"The future of our healthcare system - and the health of our population - requires that the disciplines of public health work together with clinical medicine in a coordinated way," said Gary E. Raskob, Ph.D., Dean of the Hudson College of Public Health. "The medical care a person receives is crucial and lifesaving, but about 40% of our total health outcome is shaped by the 'upstream' factors before an individual sees a physician, such as their social circumstances and lifestyle choices."

As a locally owned, nonprofit healthcare system, OU Medicine is invested in creating a healthier future for the state and, as a teaching campus, it is training future health professionals to advocate for their patients beyond the hospital or clinic. Crawford is the ideal person to lead the mission of the Office of Healthcare Innovation and Policy, said Chuck Spicer, President and CEO of OU Medicine.

"I have witnessed Dr. Crawford's care and compassion for his patients, both as my personal physician and a close friend," Spicer said. "He understands that the care we provide shouldn't end after a doctor's appointment or a hospital discharge. Instead, our patients should return home to find innovative support developed through a relationship between OU Medicine and the community.

"As a comprehensive academic health center, we keep the patient at the center of everything we do," Spicer added. "We are dedicated to addressing healthcare innovation and the social determinants of health from a physician-driven and research-driven perspective. That makes us unique in the state of Oklahoma and is a mission that we are excited to grow."