It’s a textbook example of being in the right place at the right time with the right thing to offer — in this case, it happened to be a textbook.

Chris Moriates, M.D., sent copies of the textbook he co-wrote, Understanding Value-Based Healthcare, to his former boss, Clay Johnston, M.D., dean of the new Dell Medical School at the University of Texas in Austin. He hoped the book would be incorporated into the fledgling school’s curriculum. Instead, Moriates, a former professor at the University of California, San Francisco, got a phone call.

Johnston asked Moriates whether, instead of just teaching these concepts, he would like to make what he was talking about “come true in Austin” and serve in a “first-of-its-kind-position” as head of health care value at the school.

“It was way too compelling to pass up,” says Moriates. “I laid out some lofty dreams — now I have to deliver them.”

Similar posts may exist, but Moriates knows he’s the first dean of health care value “because we thought the title up.” He joins a staff of medical educators launching a school from the ground up, focused on community partnerships and aligning health care more toward societal interests and value. Students are clearly interested, as Dell received more than 4,500 applications to be part of its inaugural class of 50 students, which starts in June.

Moriates’ own interest in value goes back to his days as a resident, when little of the curriculum addressed costs. “There’s a responsibility on all of us to do better,” he says, adding that one of his goals is to “change the way future health care leaders think about these problems.”

The Association of American Medical Colleges recently reported how concepts on cost and value are also being taught elsewhere, including the Mayo Medical School and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. But Janis Orlowski, M.D., chief health care officer, says older schools are just “retooling” their curricula, while “Dell has an opportunity to do it a different way” from the start.

“I think it’s exciting,” Orlowski says. She recalls how, when training in the late 1980s, cost was never discussed. Now, when she prescribes an ACE inhibitor, the electronic health record advises her about which ones are covered by the patient’s insurance.

“We’ve transitioned from ‘I’m a doctor, and I’ll give you my best advice,’ to ‘I’m a doctor, here are three options — what works best for you as far as cost and your goals?’” Orlowski says. “Physicians in the future will never say, ‘I was taught to ignore price.’”