VCU Health Strategic Plan

Vision by Design

We are VCU Health System and VCU health sciences college and schools, a powerful melding of faculty, staff, students and residents engaged in academic excellence and service.

Our power lies in our deep commitment to the safety net mission combined with an equally strong passion for quality, safety, education and research, while providing the most advanced medical care for the region. Our engagement in improving the health of our community brings a relevance to our work that is at the heart of all learning and discovery.

Vision by Design provides pathways to preserve, sustain, and advance our mission, and elevates us to be among the premier academic health systems in the nation. See our graphic about Vision by Design for reference.

Our mission

The VCU Health System is an urban, comprehensive academic medical center in central Virginia established to preserve and restore health for all people, to seek the cause and cure of diseases through innovative research, and to educate those who serve humanity.

Tiers icon Vision tiers

  • Inspire our students and residents, just as they inspire us
  • Bring the extraordinary into the ordinary
  • Build a diverse workforce, teaching force and research base 
  • Care for each other and nurture our talent, energy and commitment
  • Strengthen our safety net to care for complex diseases and social circumstances
  • Shape powerful partnerships to serve our communities

Pathways icon Vision pathways

  • Grow our sphere of impact
  • Align the health system and university with other organizations to serve our communities
  • Deepen operational excellence and organizational effectiveness
  • Create the best experience by listening and learning from what others tell us
  • Include a workforce committed to cultural competency and inclusion
  • Build infrastructure and spaces that inspire confidence, discovery and well-being
  • Design innovation to benefit large populations, engaging with people from all aspects of society

Strategic themes and imperatives

Research iconEducation, research and innovation

  • Focus clinical and population health innovation and research
  • Enhance education

Performance iconTop performance

  • Optimize our value equation, achieve top level performance
  • Embrace top quality for insurance products
  • Continue our High Reliability Organization journey

Care iconCare for the commonwealth

  • Focus strategically on population health and value
  • Expand access of health services by leveraging insurance and care delivery capabilities
  • Grow reach through partnerships and network development
  • Develop services and patient experiences that meet the needs of our communities


What is Vision by Design?

Vision by Design is the plan for how we are evolving our culture and improving the way we work.

Why do we need to achieve and support Vision by Design?

The health care, higher education and medical research fields are changing in many ways, including how we are paid for the care, education and research we provide. State and federal resources that have historically been available may be cut at levels that won’t continue to sustain us like they have in the past. Bottom line: It’s becoming more expensive to teach, provide care and conduct research.

We have taken an honest look at how we operate, and we know that we can do better by achieving operational excellence and strategically aligning our programs, financial performance and people all to achieve our goals.

How will we achieve Vision by Design?

By working together and remaining focused on our vision. We will focus on strategic alignment between the health system and health sciences schools and change management. This means rolling up our sleeves to find ways to coordinate and integrate in a new way, improve transparency with communication and building capabilities.

The good news is that the process has started in many key areas of the organization. Vision by Design gives us direction as we move forward. A big part of the work is being led by our own leaders and their teams. We have identified the following strategic areas of focus:

  • Our people
  • Operations
  • Programs
  • Financial performance

Each focus area has several teams that are working on various projects and process improvement initiatives that will help us achieve our vision. Each of these teams has an executive sponsor, project leader, project manager and other VCU Health representatives.

What is the overall people objective of Vision by Design? Will there be layoffs?

We will focus on building our team members’ capabilities. We will support current and future members of our team by helping them learn and grow in an environment that is safe, quality driven and supported by a culture that is respectful and caring.

It is not our intention to lay off any employees. We are confident that if our Vision by Design efforts are successful, we will generate a surplus that can be reinvested into clinical care, education and research. We can’t do it without you.

What is the overall operational objective of Vision by Design?

We will improve efficiencies and integration across the organization to create improved access to care so that we can better serve our community. For example, one of our early priorities is improving our capacity and throughput so that we can increase the number of beds that are available for patients who need them.

What is the overall programmatic objective of Vision by Design?

The programmatic objective of Vision by Design is to strategically align our programs to meet the needs of the communities we serve. For example, we have expanded programs and capabilities within our psychiatry and behavioral areas to address the increasing addiction epidemic. We are also working with our schools, particularly Allied Health Professions, to create certification programs in substance abuse care and services.

What is the overall financial objective of Vision by Design?

The financial objective of Vision by Design is to provide security for our mission and vision and related financial commitments by creating efficiencies throughout the enterprise. The financial results of these efficiencies that are estimated to be approximately $300 million over three years will assist in:

  • Maintaining an appropriate operating margin and cash flow that provides for optimal financing options for our projects, as well as maximizing investments needed for our future
  • Providing additional funds that will be reinvested directly from these efficiencies into the enterprise to support our three missions of education, research and patient care
  • Ensuring that we are excellent stewards of the resources provided to us
Will the health sciences schools play a direct role in the success of Vision by Design?

Yes. Everyone understands and takes pride in our research and teaching missions. We recognize that we teach and that our students teach us. We need to organize our resources to support these missions.

We must become more strategic about our research portfolio and grow our forms of funding. We also need to measure our performance. Vision by Design, as it pertains to the health sciences schools, will help us measure, track and manage this work. It will allow us to better align our research with clinical areas of focus, as well as with recruiting efforts.

Is VCU Health still committed to being a high reliability seeking organization?

Yes. Being a high reliability organization is still a priority, and it supports our vision. The new vision for VCU Health explicitly speaks to our passion for quality and safety. Vision by Design is the plan to achieve our new vision and the steps to becoming a high reliability seeking organization are a tactic in that plan. We are proud of the accomplishments we have made on our journey, and we know the good work will continue.

Is Vision by Design only focused on expense reduction?

No. Expense reduction is an objective, but not the only one. We have identified the following strategic areas of focus:

  • Our people
  • Operations
  • Programs
  • Financial performance
How long will the work for Vision by Design last?

This work will not end. Vision by Design is how we will continually improve the way we work. Simply put, it is the plan for how we will achieve our vision.

Who is responsible for Vision by Design?

Everyone will play an active role in Vision by Design. We ask everyone to pay attention to what’s going on, be supportive, get involved and bring your creativity and ideas to the table. Help find ways to solve problems, save money or improve processes. Be an ambassador.