A Blueprint for the Future of U.S. Healthcare? An Inspiring, Real-Life Story to be Featured at 2014 Healthcare Analytics Summit
A Blueprint for the Future of US Healthcare? An Inspiring, Real-Life Story to be Featured at 2014 Healthcare Analytics Summit
Check out any national media outlet and there’s a good chance you’ll find politicians, providers and payers heatedly wrangling over the best way to approach healthcare transformation in the U.S. While all sides agree it is necessary, they have vastly differing views regarding how to make it happen. Of course, the big losers are the patients who will continue to pay premium costs for an inefficient healthcare system until those issues can be resolved.
Perhaps instead of arguing, posturing and playing to the media, all sides should take a moment to look to the south – about 480 miles south of Miami to be exact. That’s where an extraordinary transformation in healthcare delivery is taking place, the result of a unique partnership forged between government, private business, and an innovative physician.
The project is called Health City Cayman Islands. It’s a collaborative effort of the Cayman Islands, private business, and Dr. Devi Shetty, an Indian cardiac surgeon who first came to wide public notice when he operated on Mother Theresa after she experienced a heart attack. He went on to become her personal physician.
These Health Cities are changing the landscape in both quality and costs by applying industrial principles and advanced IT to healthcare. By servicing high volumes of patients across many locations, Health Cities can take advantage of the economies of scale. They can charge less because they buy in bulk, preferably from the manufacturers rather than medical supply distributors – the same principle Wal-Mart uses to drive down its prices – and their teams become more efficient due to the high volume and specialization involved.
Essentially, they are doing the same thing for complex healthcare procedures that Henry Ford once did for building automobiles and Toyota later furthered with Lean Manufacturing – concepts that are only beginning to gain acceptance in U.S. healthcare.
Data at the Forefront of a Nation’s Health
The model for Health City Cayman Islands started at Narayana Health, where Dr. Shetty is both chairman and founder. The organization has been focused on bringing quality healthcare to the poor in India, a mission that was accomplished through the establishment of a “Health City” – a 2000- to 5000-bed conglomeration of multiple specialty hospitals on a single campus that can take care of all healthcare needs or patients. The first Health City was established in 2001 on the outskirts of Bangalore; Narayana Health now operates 26 hospitals in 16 cities.
Data is a critical contributor to the changes Narayana Health is making and drives the success of Health City Cayman Islands, too. As Dr. Shetty told to CIO India, “We want to create a robust IT platform to control the finance department and quality of services. Post that, we want to get into patient care and outcome(s). We are perhaps one of the few hospitals in the world where a balance sheet is created on a daily basis. A sophisticated ERP system on a cloud solution houses all the financial details about all the group hospitals.”
The driving force behind Health City is data and the knowledge that an organization can’t reduce the cost of healthcare – or any business for that matter – without the help of data and analytics.
Dr. Shetty notes that while IT can’t deliver the cure, it can help increase patient safety. As an example he points to problems with drug interactions. “No doctor in this world has the presence of mind, round the clock, to calculate drug interaction accurately every single time,” he told CIO India. But if hospitals will put a policy in place that prescriptions can only be written using specialized software that checks for drug interactions automatically, many lives can be saved.
Health Catalyst senior vice president Dale Sanders also contributed to the project, working with the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority and Minister to get the Health City Cayman Islands project off the ground. While in that role, Sanders drafted legislative changes and the strategic health plan for the Cayman Islands that included the Health City facility. He also wrote Elements of a National Health Strategy: Key Metrics and Performance Indicators, a plan that highlighted data as an integral element to Cayman Islands project.
Government and Corporation Partner for Healthcare
The construction of Health City Cayman Islands was the result of a “perfect storm” of events. Several years earlier the Caymans Health Services Authority (HAS) had instituted a “sister program” that allowed its hospitals to send patients with certain conditions to the U.S. for treatment. Yet as they reviewed the program, they thought it would be better to keep the $25 million they were exporting in healthcare costs each year closer to home. They were determined to build a world-class hospital.
At the same time, Dr. Shetty was looking to expand the Health City concept past the borders of India. He particularly wanted to target the rapidly growing population of aging patients in the U.S., especially those who needed complex procedures such as heart surgery but couldn’t afford the high cost. After reviewing his options he realized he couldn’t put his Health City inside the U.S. because the costs, taxes and the way healthcare is administered in the U.S. He looked instead for a location that was close enough to the U.S. to be easily reached but with a business-friendly government that encouraged innovation.
The Cayman Islands met the criteria. The unique Health City partnership developed by the Cayman Islands government, private business and Dr. Shetty was born.
Health City Cayman Islands opened in 2014 as tertiary care hospital with centers of excellence in cardiac surgery, cardiology and orthopedics. Over the next decade it has plans to expand to a 2000-bed hospital and expects to be a Joint Commission International, USA (JCI)-accredited facility providing care in all the major specialties at half of what it would cost in the U.S. The real story, though, especially for those following the U.S. healthcare debate, is how the Cayman Islands is doing it.
Template for Healthcare in America
While the concepts put in place at Health City Cayman Islands may be revolutionary and the idea of government and private healthcare providers working together to improve care and reduce costs may seem downright heretical, it is clearly working. You can learn how it works at the Healthcare Analytics Summit this September, where we’ll premier a documentary detailing the role data is playing at Health City Cayman Islands and revealing more of the story of the project’s inception and success.
The Health City Cayman Islands initiative is a powerful lesson in what works and how data holds the power to make healthcare affordable and effective for everyone. The real question to ask is whether it could be a blueprint for the future of American healthcare.