Dr. Steven Altschuler appointed as senior vice president of health affairs, CEO of UHealth

few months ago, the new leader of the UHealth system at the University of Miami was working on a startup company. At the time, he had no plans on taking charge of an expanding professional and academic healthcare system in January, 2016.

Dr. Steven Altschuler, the new senior vice president of health affairs and CEO of UHealth at UM, was developing the gene therapy company Spark Therapeutics when he was approached about about joining UM. Spark Therapeutics is a spin-off of the Center of Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), which he retired from in June. He will now be responsible for leading the school’s clinical health system, including hospitals, faculty practice and clinics. He will also report directly to President Julio Frenk.

“There’s an old saying about leading: good leaders manage the present while creating the future and selectively forgetting the past,” Dr. Altschuler said about shaping his new position. “Nothing at UHealth needs change right away.”

Dr. Altschuler’s work at CHOP included a long-term working relationship with Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He had worked with a network of 50 clinical care sites at CHOP and said that expanding UHealth’s network is increasingly important. For example, the upcoming opening of the 200,000-square-foot Lennar Foundation Medical Center on Coral Gables campus in the fall of 2016 will bring together services from the school’s existing facilities and provide urgent care and outpatient surgery, among other services. He said that healthcare networks are becoming more important because of federal healthcare policies.

“With the new Affordable Care Act, there’s a push to provide care at the right time in the right place with the right services,” Dr. Altschuler said. “You need a network of care.”

President Frenk said in the hiring announcement on Nov. 24 that he valued Dr. Altschuler’s experience in both administration and deliverance of health care.

“Steven Altschuler has a wealth of experience as a leader in both health care administration and the delivery of excellent and compassionate patient care. As senior vice president of health affairs, he will spearhead UHealth’s continued advancement as a world-class academic medical enterprise serving the Americas and beyond,” President Frenk said.

Frenk’s experience as the minister of public health in Mexico and dean of the Harvard Medical School, among other healthcare administration positions, showed Dr. Altschuler that the school was committed to improving and building on its existing healthcare network.

“I hit it off really well with President Frenk when we met … obviously he’s a leader in public health,” Dr. Altschuler said.

Dr. Altschuler is still working on finding a house in South Florida but said that he and his wife were excited about the move. They knew that if they moved again after his retirement, it would be for warmer weather. Dr. Altschuler will start in his new position on Jan. 1, 2016.