Thrive by IU Health

April 18, 2024

Q1 Report: Leveraging Philanthropy to Attract Visionaries

Q1 Report: Leveraging Philanthropy to Attract Visionaries

Crystal Hinson Miller, president of IU Health Foundation, is a national leader in healthcare philanthropy. Here, she shares her personal reflections.

Crystal Miller

As someone working in the healthcare industry, I often get asked for recommendations when a friend or someone they love is facing a major health challenge. And the question I’m asked usually is something along the lines of “Who’s the best …?” As in, “Who’s the best at treating this kind of cancer?” or “Who’s the best at addressing this specific heart condition?”

Certainly, people want to be treated in a state-of-the-art facility with the most advanced tools and resources, but they’re likely to think first and foremost about the healthcare professionals who will deliver their care. That’s why patients often will travel any distance necessary to be treated by a certain physician or to meet with a particular care team. They know that lifesaving care, pioneering treatments and medical breakthroughs start with dedicated individuals and teams.

That’s why, at IU Health Foundation, we emphasize leveraging philanthropy to attract healthcare visionaries to Indiana. We want Hoosiers who need groundbreaking, effective care to have close access to people who develop new approaches, improve clinical practices and drive medical excellence.

At the heart of this pursuit is our recently launched IU Health Foundation Master Clinician program, which supports the recruitment of highly sought-after healthcare professionals to IU Health.

For example, Michael W. Becker, MD, joined IU Health last year through the IU Health Foundation Master Clinician program, bringing his expertise in the treatment of blood cancers and bone marrow transplants and his related research. People who need a leading-edge expert in leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma no longer need to travel to New York, where Dr. Becker previously practiced. They have access to him here in Indiana, as do the emerging clinicians he teaches as a professor at the IU School of Medicine.

Na Tosha Gatson, MD, PhD, joined IU Health through the IU Health Foundation Master Clinician program at the beginning of March, coming from Arizona to take on the role of senior medical director of the Neuro-Oncology Center of Excellence. A champion of high-tech approaches to brain tumor therapies, Dr. Gatson embraces a compassionate and evidence-based vision for the treatment of brain tumor patients, while—as a professor at the IU School of Medicine—she also encourages and equips young physicians to pursue new discoveries. And all of this benefits Hoosiers with challenging diagnoses in neurology and oncology.

Attracting clinical leaders such as Drs. Becker and Gatson is not the same as recruiting professionals in other industries. We can’t just offer them a nice pay package, title, benefits and a corner office. Instead, we need to ensure they will have the resources and opportunities to provide world-class patient care and allow their practices to thrive. This means state-of-the-art equipment, well-trained clinical colleagues and modern spaces. And to complement their clinical practice, they need facilities and opportunities where they can conduct research, teach and mentor.

All of that requires financial resources similar to start-up costs for a new business. Once they’re established, such teams can be expected to generate revenue through clinical practice and research grants. Until then, though, they need working capital to launch their enterprise.

That’s where philanthropy comes in.

Gifts to IU Health Foundation can provide seed money for the IU Health Foundation Master Clinician program, supporting the work of individuals who promise to change global healthcare while making discoveries, advancing knowledge and delivering care right here in Indiana. That good work will lead to more, as other clinical leaders are attracted to IU Health because they see it as a healthcare system that values and supports excellence and innovation, for Hoosiers and beyond.

And all of that will allow my colleagues and I to reassure someone who is facing a medical challenge—or just a routine healthcare need. When they ask who they can turn to, we have one more reason to direct them to someone near home. We can say with confidence, “You’ll be in good hands. They’re an IU Health Foundation Master Clinician—one of the best.”