On Jan. 1, 2016, David A. Spahlinger, M.D., became executive vice dean for clinical affairs in the Medical School and president of the U-M Health System. The clinical enterprise of the U-M academic medical center includes inpatient and ambulatory care provided by U-M Medical Group physicians and other health professionals at the main University Hospital, the Frankel Cardiovascular Center, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, the Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, and the many U-M primary and specialty care centers located throughout Michigan.
From 2004-15, Dr. Spahlinger served the Medical School as senior associate dean for clinical affairs, and from 1997-2015 he was executive director of the faculty group practice (the U-M Medical Group).
Dr. Spahlinger, who is a clinical professor of internal medicine in the Medical School, oversees all activities of a clinical enterprise that serves patients from throughout Michigan and around the world. In fiscal year 2015, the U-M hospitals and ambulatory care health centers registered 2.1 million outpatient visits, 48,000 hospital stays, 16,000 observation cases, 101,000 emergency visits, 52,000 operations and outpatient procedures, and 1,300 Survival Flight missions.
A 1980 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Dr. Spahlinger completed his residency in internal medicine in 1983 at the University of Michigan. He served as chief medical resident from 1983-84. He joined Wooster Clinic in Wooster, Ohio, in 1984. While at the Wooster Clinic, he served as the head of finance and as a member of the board of directors for the 40-physician multi-specialty group.
Dr. Spahlinger returned to the U-M Medical School faculty in 1994, and served as director of the Primary Care Program from 1994-97. During that time, Primary Care at U-M grew from 39 full-time employees to 144, 12 new health centers were created, 14 practices were acquired, and primary care managed 150,000 fully capitated lives.
In 1997, Dr. Spahlinger was appointed medical director of the new faculty practice plan — bringing together for the first time, all physicians providing care in all clinical departments across U-M to better manage and coordinate care across the institution for patients. The newly integrated Faculty Group Practice replaced the individual departmental practice plans. From 1997- 2015, Dr. Spahlinger led the Faculty Group Practice (now called the U-M Medical Group) through times of great change in health care and academic medicine.
For example, in 2004, the Faculty Group Practice participated in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Physician Group Practice (PGP) Demonstration Project. The PGP demo became the prototype for the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) section of the Affordable Care Act. Over the five years of the project, the U-M saved Medicare $47 million dollars and earned $17 million dollars in shared savings.
In 2007, the Faculty Group Practice began managing all ambulatory care services provided by U-M. During the past several years, through implementing innovative care models and increasing physician involvement, Dr. Spahlinger and the Medical Group have successfully improved physician satisfaction, patient satisfaction, patient access, and financial strength and performance for outpatient services.
Building on these successes, Dr. Spahlinger brought the U-M’s leadership to bear in the establishment of two ACOs. The Pioneer ACO, which the U-M participated in from its launch in January 2012 through December 2013, involved the collaboration of more than 1,800 U-M and Integrated Health Associates (IHA) physicians caring for over 24,000 Medicare fee-for-service patients.
In January 2014, Dr. Spahlinger created a partnership with the Physician Organization of Michigan (POM) ACO, which now includes the members of 12 physician groups (including the U-M physician group) across the lower peninsula of Michigan. This affiliation more than doubled the size of POM ACO, bringing together more than 5,700 physicians to serve over 120,000 patients in 22 counties who have traditional Medicare coverage.
In 2013, Dr. Spahlinger helped to establish the Medical School’s League of Clinical Excellence to honor faculty members for outstanding service to the U-M’s clinical mission. During the inaugural ceremony, UMMS Dean James O. Woolliscroft, M.D., added Dr. Spahlinger to the inaugural class of 32 inductees.
In 2014-15, Dr. Spahlinger worked with other U-M leaders to envision and implement a new organizational structure for the U-M academic medical center, designed to make the most of U-M’s tripartite mission of patient care, research and education. He was chosen to lead the clinical enterprise of the academic medical center in recognition of his expertise as a physician leader with significant prior success in patient care management, clinical enterprise operations, health policy implications, and strategic planning and business development
He is past chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Advisory Committee for Healthcare and past chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Faculty Practice. He continues to work with U-M patients and their families, as well as physicians and other health professionals at the U-M and across the state to ensure the academic medical center can achieve its mission to: (1) create the future of healthcare through the discovery of new knowledge for the benefit of patients and society; (2) educate the next generation of physicians, nurses, other health professionals and scientists; and (3) serve the health needs of our citizens.