The new chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences provided insight into the future of the institution.

The Friends of UAMS held a reception welcoming UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson at the UAMS West Family Medical Center in Fort Smith on Thursday. Leslie Taylor, UAMS vice chancellor for communications and marketing, said Patterson began his service as chancellor June 1 after the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees selected him in December.

Patterson was previously senior vice president and chief operating officer of New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Komansky Children’s Hospital in New York. Taylor said Patterson is a well-known cardiologist.

Patterson provided some examples of what UAMS will be focusing on in the future. Among these will be artificial intelligence and digital health.

"We have a telehealth program already set up here, allowing communication across the state," Patterson said. "That's going to expand. We're going to see digital health allow us to shrink the state of Arkansas when you think about receiving health care. You'll be able to receive health care from the person that you need to see regardless of where you are, and we need to get out of the business of making people get in a car and drive for a couple of hours to go see the right health care professional."

UAMS needs to figure out how to virtually bring the right health care professional to the patient rather than the other way around, Patterson said.

Another focus Patterson talked about was the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. He described the institute as a beacon for the state that has provided care to tens of thousands of Arkansans.

"We intend to ensure that our cancer program gets NCI (National Cancer Institute) designation as one of the top cancer programs in the country," Patterson said. "NCI designation carries with it some additional funding for research, but funding is really not what is important."

NCI designation will give UAMS access to drugs, clinical trials and new treatments and therapies for patients in Arkansas who suffer from cancer, among other benefits, Patterson said.

Among those in attendance at the reception were Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders and University of Arkansas at Fort Smith Chancellor Paul Beran.