The ER at University of Arizona Medical Center’s main campus on North Campbell Avenue.


Like other states, Arizona is challenged to find solutions that will improve health care, education and the economy. Sometimes the answers or solutions to these complex and seemingly intractable challenges are right in front of us — right here in Arizona.

The recently announced initiative to bring the University of Arizona Health Network into Banner Health, resulting in an enhanced, long-term collaboration between Banner Health and the University of Arizona will help our state at a pivotal time.

  • It will create an Arizona-based nonprofit organization with statewide reach that will improve care for all Arizonans by reliably and compassionately delivering superior care to all who turn to this system.
  • It will serve as a vital economic catalyst in creating Arizona’s largest private employer with major academic medical centers affiliated with University of Arizona Colleges of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix, expanding the bioscience sectors in our two largest cities.
  • In Tucson, $500 million in capital funding will be infused into the University of Arizona Medical Center and other pivotal projects such as a major outpatient center where faculty will practice and medical students will learn.
  • It will secure long-term and significant private support to enhance the training of future physicians at the University of Arizona Colleges of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix, plus it will maximize the value of ongoing state funding needed annually through legislative appropriations.

In Phoenix-based Banner Health, this collaboration includes one of the leading large health systems in the nation in clinical quality. Banner’s ability to integrate enabling technologies like telehealth and electronic medical records into the care of the sickest patients in hospital intensive-care units has resulted in ICU mortality rates that are half of national rates. In key areas of national concern, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Banner has thoughtfully assumed a national leadership role through a significant investment in Alzheimer’s prevention research.

In the Tucson-based University of Arizona Health Network, this collaboration includes an organization defined by its unwavering focus on its support of teaching, research and quality patient care — the essential ingredients of academic medicine. The University of Arizona Medical Center’s University Campus operates Southern Arizona’s only top-level trauma center and is the clinical home to the physician-scientists of the University of Arizona Physicians group who serve as faculty for Tucson’s University of Arizona College of Medicine.The University of Arizona offers training to medical students on two College of Medicine campuses, one in Tucson and the other in Phoenix. For decades, this state has depended on the training of high-quality physicians at the University of Arizona who stay in Arizona to provide quality care and wellness management for our citizens. Even more physician specialists will be needed from these Colleges of Medicine as the growth of the state steadily continues amidst a rapidly changing health care environment.

In the transforming and often unpredictable landscape of health care, health systems must be partners with colleges of medicine. These health systems must be operationally and financially sound.

Ultimately, Arizona can be either a recipient of this transformed future for health care, adjusting to whatever comes our way, or we can be a national leader in establishing this future. This is an Arizona-based solution — right in front of us.

Ann Weaver Hart is president of the University of Arizona. Michael Waldrum is president and CEO of the University of Arizona Health Network. Peter S. Fine is president and CEO of Banner Health.