Bridging the Gap: Spotlight on Dee Ford, M.D., MSCR, National Leader in Population Health

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Dee W. Ford, M.D., MSCRDee W. Ford, M.D., MSCR, is a physician scientist and leader in critical care. The preponderance of her clinical and research work has focused on issues related to critical care with an emphasis on health disparities and implementation of best practices. To date, among her most impactful contributions at MUSC is the establishment of the tele-ICU program. Dr. Ford strongly advocated for the development of a tele-ICU model for several years before it became a reality. In her vision, MUSC was uniquely positioned to use its expertise to provide guidance and support for critically ill patients to hospitals around the state.

Ford received the 2020 Population Health Award from the Medical University of South Carolina Foundation for her outstanding contributions to improving the health of the state of South Carolina. Nationally, she has served on a number of leadership committees for both the American Thoracic Society and the American College of Chest Physicians.

Ford was subsequently tasked to lead the tele-ICU domain when the MUSC Center for Telehealth was first established, and she has steadily grown its operations over the last eight years. The tele-ICU program has demonstrated improved outcomes year over year including decreased severity-adjusted mortality, decreased hospital and ICU length of stay, and better adherence to best practices.

In concert with the tele-ICU program, Ford developed ICU Innovations, an interprofessional program provided to tele-ICU partner hospitals. ICU Innovations provides quarterly site visits by multidisciplinary teams from MUSC, who facilitate case-based seminars on the implementation of ICU best practices with similarly constructed local teams. Further, ICU Innovations provides ongoing support between seminars with sharing of expertise, protocols, and lessons learned during structured conference calls.

Recognizing a unique opportunity to expand MUSC’s ability to deliver telehealth to the state of South Carolina, Ford formed a team of clinician investigators and wrote a successful proposal for the first of-its-kind Telehealth Center of Excellence Award (COE) from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). This multi-year, multi-million dollar award provides critical funding to support the delivery and evaluation of telehealth, positioning MUSC at the forefront of national telehealth leaders.

Ford has consistently and successfully improved the health of the state and is a national leader in the field of population health.