Dr. Arthur Hong, assistant professor of internal medicine and clinical sciences at UT Southwestern Medical Center, is the recipient of the Texas Health Resources Clinical Scholar Award for his research into how to improve the cost, quality, and delivery of health care.
Dr. Hong’s research aligns closely with the central mission of Southwestern Health Resources, an integrated health network launched in 2015 by UT Southwestern and Texas Health Resources that comprises 31 hospital locations and 300 clinics, spanning a 16-county service area with more than 7 million residents, a press release stated.
“The clinical scholars program is about scientifically examining the quality and efficiency of the care we provide and determining where there are gaps,” stated Elizabeth Ransom, executive vice president and North Zone clinical leader for Texas Health, in the release. “We’re constantly pursuing these kinds of improvements in the network, and Dr. Hong’s work will help us provide higher value care that equates to a better experience for the provider and, more importantly, the patient.”
Hong’s research will work to identify even greater improvements in the program and apply those learnings to care models throughout the Southwestern Health network, which cares for more than 3.7 million outpatient visits annually.
“Within Southwestern Health Resources, I am very interested in developing health system innovations that minimize clinician workflow disruptions, and improve patient care and the patient care experience across the entire spectrum of clinical settings,” Hong stated.
Hong blends a background in both medicine and economics to study ways to improve the efficiency and overall quality of care, such as his recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine outlining factors contributing to unnecessary imaging.
“I am most interested in how people – both patients and clinicians – interact with the health care system, and how it can be improved,” Hong stated. “With a background in economics and health policy, I have been trying to understand and describe how clinical decisions are made.”
Hong said he hopes to advance consistent and highly reliable adherence to evidence-based standards of practice.
“An interesting window into clinical decision making is how clinicians continue to order medical services that are widely accepted to be more harmful than helpful. That insight led me to study the impact of Choosing Wisely, a campaign targeted at reducing unnecessary care,” stated Hong, part of the William T. and Gay F. Solomon Division of General Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern.
His research interests also include innovation and evaluation of health care delivery, assessment of clinical value of care, analysis of health policy impacts and quality measurement. Other published works include an analysis of depressive symptoms associated with smoking cessation, overuse of low-value imaging techniques for spine and back problems, and an overview of accountable care organizations.
“I have examined whether patients with high-deductible health plans – a growing form of insurance where patients are responsible for the first several thousand dollars of their care – are better at avoiding such unnecessary care,” he stated. “I have also looked at the clinician side, examining clinician characteristics that predict which patients receive potentially unnecessary imaging.”
Accountable care organizations like the Southwestern Health Resources program are charged with controlling the costs of care, noted Dr. Ethan Halm, who directs UT Southwestern’s Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research and leads the William T. and Gay F. Solomon Division of General Internal Medicine.
“This means that we need to improve our ability to consistently deliver high quality, patient-centered care in a cost-effective fashion. To accomplish this, we will need to choose wisely as individual clinicians and collectively as an integrated delivery system,” stated Halm, professor of internal medicine and clinical sciences who holds the Walter Family Distinguished Chair in Internal Medicine in Honor of Albert D. Roberts, M.D. “Dr. Hong is doing important work in this area to understand the reasons for overuse of non-indicated testing and in developing strategies to improve the quality, outcomes, and efficiency of care.”
Southwestern Health Resources established the Texas Health Resources Clinical Scholars Program to facilitate the advancement and recruitment of outstanding clinician researchers. Leaders at both institutions expect the cumulative work of the Clinical Scholars Program to help advance the effectiveness of UT Southwestern and Texas Health clinical research programs, increase the impact of the Southwestern Health Resources Population Health Research Center on the North Texas community, and enhance the delivery of quality health care.
Hong studied economics and medicine at the University of Michigan, completed internal medicine residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and finished a fellowship in general internal medicine at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Population Medicine.
Hong sees patients at the William T. & Gay F. Solomon General Internal Medicine Clinic. His clinical interests include primary care and chronic disease management.