Levy Gift to Support Innovations in Care for Seriously Ill Patients

A $1-million gift from Susan and Richard Levy D ’60 will fuel the rapid-cycle development and testing of new ways of caring for individuals with serious illnesses. The couple’s gift to the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth launches the Susan & Richard Levy Health Care Delivery Incubator, a joint initiative between Dartmouth College and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH) that will bring together multidisciplinary teams of researchers and frontline healthcare providers to improve patient care.

“Susan and Dick Levy’s vision and generous support allow us to leverage the strengths of both of our institutions to solve real-world challenges in healthcare,” said Duane Compton, PhD, Dean of the Geisel School of Medicine. “This is a great example of how philanthropy can catalyze innovation.”

A 1960 graduate of Dartmouth College, Dick Levy earned his PhD in nuclear chemistry from the University of California Berkeley and is the former CEO and chairman of Palo Alto-based Varian Medical Systems. His hands-on approach to management and the efforts he took to empower employees is well known in Silicon Valley and beyond. Dick is especially passionate about improving quality and lowering costs within health care systems.

Neonatologist Tyler Hartman, MD, and nurse practitioner Kathryn Richards are leading a project to redesign care for stable preterm infants by transitioning their feeding from the hospital to the home.

In addition to gifts from Susan and Dick Levy, the Incubator is supported by philanthropic funds from the Office of the Provost at Dartmouth College and the Health Transformation Research Fund at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health. It will be based at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, which is part of Geisel.

“The current COVID-19 pandemic has magnified how resourceful and innovative our clinical teams are. They often have tremendous ideas about how to improve care for patients and families,” said Joanne M. Conroy, MD, CEO and President of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health. “The Levy Health Care Delivery Incubator gives our care teams the time and resources to develop those ideas and, ultimately, implement the best ones.”

The Incubator is focused on serious illnesses, which are conditions that negatively impact quality of life and daily function, can lead to death, and/or are burdensome in symptoms, treatments, or caregiver stress. Research shows that medical care for these populations is often poorly coordinated, marked by low patient and family satisfaction, and the cause of moral distress among healthcare providers. Serious illness care also makes up a disproportionate share of U.S. medical spending. The Incubator will fund multiple pilot projects each year that seek to address these problems among specific patient groups.

After a competitive review process that began last September, the Incubator chose three projects to receive its first round of support. A common theme among the projects is moving care from the hospital into patients’ homes. Providing high-quality, home-based care is often better for patients, costs less, and conserves important hospital-based resources, such as beds—a goal that has gained even greater relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Facing a life-threatening illness is inherently stressful for patients and their families, as well as for those who care for them. If we can improve the way we deliver care, we can minimize suffering, improve health outcomes, and often reduce costs,” said Amber Barnato, MD, the Susan J. and Richard M. Levy Distinguished Professor in Health Care Delivery at Geisel and a palliative care physician at D-HH. Barnato is co-directing the Incubator with Mary Oseid, Senior Vice President for Regional Strategy and Operations at D-HH.

Each project team must include clinical and non-clinical faculty and staff, as well as community-based social service providers and patient and family representatives. The teams will have access to financial and material support from the Incubator, including project management, analytics, and information technology; and mentoring from a network of Dartmouth College faculty and D-HH senior leadership. Each project is expected to last approximately 12 months.

“Through the Incubator, we will discover new and better ways of delivering care to these vulnerable patients,” said Barnato. “Most importantly, we will share what we learn in order to inform other healthcare systems nationwide.”

Founded in 1797, the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth strives to improve the lives of the communities it serves through excellence in learning, discovery, and healing. The Geisel School of Medicine is renowned for its leadership in medical education, healthcare policy and delivery science, biomedical research, global health, and in creating innovations that improve lives worldwide. As one of America’s leading medical schools, Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine is committed to training new generations of diverse leaders who will help solve our most vexing challenges in healthcare.

The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice is a world leader in studying and advancing models for disruptive change in healthcare delivery. The work of Dartmouth Institute faculty and researchers includes developing the concept of shared decision-making between patients and healthcare professionals, creating the model for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), and introducing the game-changing concept that more healthcare is not necessarily better care.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH), New Hampshire’s only academic health system and the state’s largest private employer, serves a population of 1.9 million across northern New England. D-HH provides access to more than 2400 providers in almost every area of medicine, delivering care at its flagship hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH. DHMC was named in 2019 as the #1 hospital in New Hampshire by U.S. News & World Report, and recognized for high performance in 13 clinical specialties and procedures. Dartmouth-Hitchcock also includes the  Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center, one of only 51 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation; the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the state’s only children’s hospital; affiliated member hospitals in Lebanon, Keene, and New London, NH, and Windsor, VT, and Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire; and 24 Dartmouth-Hitchcock clinics that provide ambulatory services across New Hampshire and Vermont. The D-HH system trains nearly 400 residents and fellows annually, and performs world-class research, in partnership with the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Junction, VT.