A discussion about healthcare’s newest and most exciting new trend – innovation.
The imperatives to fix the continuing escalation of healthcare costs have never been higher. Total expenditures in healthcare surpassed $2.3 trillion in 2008 and have only been increasing since then. Many have held hope in the passage of the recent healthcare reform legislation in Congress as a beginning point for more-effectively managing the costs. It’s clear that the mounting costs of medical care are unsustainable. The need to develop an affordable care model will only escalate as our population continues to age and the so-called “baby boom generation” enters retirement and enrolls in Medicare. Innovation is desperately needed in our healthcare system.
For those already tuned into the current trends of healthcare, it will come as no surprise that one of the leading figures in innovation is the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF). As one of the nation’s most prominent healthcare delivery and research centers, the clinic has shown the world some of the best ways to treat patients, run a cost-effective hospital, and pay doctors. The organization also is at the forefront of pushing creative ideas into the mainstream of healthcare through the CCF Innovations program. Created more than a decade ago, the program brings together inventors, investors, researchers, and care delivery experts in an effort to develop the next generation of medical equipment. In fact, Global Corporate Venturing – a monthly magazine for venture capitalists – ranked CCF as one of the most influential healthcare innovators.
Last week, the Cleveland Clinic and MedStar Health, an owner of many large medical facilities in the Greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, announced a new partnership. The intent is to bring new innovations to market faster by collaborating with one another. From heart stents to new systems that stimulate brain function, the Clinic has licensed more than 250 technologies and started 35 new companies. The effort will be led by a newly created role of Chief Innovation Officer (CIO). It seems the “innovation” officer role is popping up all over the place, from prestigious schools such as the University of California at Los Angeles (Molly Coye, MD), to Navigant Consulting (Marc Bard), to Open Health Tools (Chris Mackie, Ph.D.). The CIO was once a title unheard of in healthcare organizations, but it seems innovation is in!
Aside from the many innovative actions being undertaken by the private sector, the federal government is also getting on board as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) Innovation Center gets started. Created as part of the healthcare reform legislation, the CMS Innovation Center has begun work to drive innovations that ultimately improve the patient experience and deliver more affordable care across the country. Richard Gilfillan, MD, the former CEO of Geisinger Health Plan, is serving as the Acting Director. One of their primary objectives is to identify, validate and disseminate information on new care delivery and payment models. The CMS Innovation Center is in the process of organizing around several groups, including: care models, integrated care, and community improvement. The Center will also focus on rapid cycle evaluation of ideas and approaches that improve care as well as on capacity building and stakeholder engagement. It will be developing pilot programs at the state level and supporting initiatives such as the “medical home” and “accountable care organization” concepts. In addition, the Innovation Center has announced their intentions to begin multi-payer primary care practice demonstration programs as well as a new plan to bring teams of physicians into underprovided areas.
As we begin a new year, it will certainly be interesting to see what innovations the healthcare community will offer that redirect our system of care in the coming years. With both the private sector and government now getting on the innovation bandwagon, let’s hope that ideas and new approaches for fostering more efficient, effective and affordable care are forthcoming. I think it is a positive sign that America’s medical system is entering the dawn of what seems to be a new future in healthcare.
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