Building a health care ecosystem: FSU leaders create FSU Health roadmap

Florida State University officials have been working to lay the groundwork for FSU Health, a health care ecosystem poised to transform health care delivery in North Florida.

“FSU Health will reshape patient care, education and research throughout Florida,” said FSU President Richard McCullough. “The Florida Panhandle is booming and the possibilities — and needs — in our region have never been greater. We are at a very exciting time as we lay the foundation for this monumental project.”

Over the past several years, Florida State University has been growing its health research portfolio while also pursuing partnerships with major health care systems throughout North Florida, including  Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, Mayo Clinic and others. But the decision by the Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis to award FSU $125 million to build the academic health center of the future kicked those efforts into high gear.

Over the summer, university leadership established formal working groups to identify opportunities and develop a road map to facilitate expansion of the FSU Health ecosystem, in research, education, clinical affairs and facilities. To facilitate this effort, the university partnered with the global consulting firm Guidehouse to systematically review research, education and clinical opportunities, with involvement of faculty, administration, and staff from across the campus.

The university has also started working with a design partner on the academic health center.

“This is the most ambitious intellectual project the university has ever taken on and will change the face of the university for the next 100 years,” said Provost Jim Clark. “We are taking a systematic approach to make sure that we get this right.”

“This is the most ambitious intellectual project the university has ever taken on and will change the face of the university for the next 100 years. We are taking a systematic approach to make sure that we get this right.”

— Provost Jim Clark

When McCullough arrived at FSU in August 2021, he saw an opportunity for FSU to make an even bigger impact on the region, specifically in the Panhandle where there are fewer medical providers and treatment options. The university through its College of Medicine has a commitment to train primary care physicians who will help provide care to underserved populations. Through FSU Health, the university will build on that legacy by expanding its clinical research programs and exploring innovative digital health care solutions.

“The timing for this couldn’t be better,” Clark said. “A number of initiatives are gelling at just the right time with the arrival of new faculty members and administrators who are committed to this project.”

Among the new hires is Vice President for Research Stacey Patterson as well as two new faculty members in the College of Nursing who will bring significant National Institutes of Health funding and new expertise to the university. The university is also wrapping up a search for a new dean for the College of Medicine.

While the university continues to work out the details of the Tallahassee Center, it is also actively working on FSU Health projects in Panama City. The Latitude Margaritaville Watersound, a 55 plus living community in Panama City, includes space for FSU Health.

McCullough, Clark and Patterson recently engaged in a weeklong tour throughout the Panhandle visiting health care professionals, entrepreneurs, educators, developers, the military and others interested in health care delivery. Discussing how FSU Health can help serve the needs of the Panhandle was a focal point for discussions.

“We have a real opportunity to create meaningful change for Panhandle residents who currently drive several hours to Tallahassee, Gainesville or Mobile for their medical needs,” Patterson said. “The FSU Health initiative can create better care options while also creating jobs, educational opportunities and a major expansion of research and development in the region.”