The top executive of one of the world's largest medical device companies was in Charleston recently, and he wanted to talk about the value of health care.
Omar Ishrak, CEO of Medtronic, was in town Feb. 21 to unveil a 5-year partnership with the Medical University of South Carolina. About 100 people filled an MUSC auditorium to hear how the Ireland-based company and the state hospital system plan to collaborate to make health care better and cheaper for patients.
It is the second time MUSC has announced it will be teaming with a baron of the medical device business. The previous deal, with German company Siemens, was annocuned in August.
Though it is yet to be seen what exactly the partnerships will yield, hospital leaders are promising they will work together to offer higher quality health care at a lower cost.
The thought is that Siemens, Medtronic and MUSC collect and maintain reams of data that, if leveraged correctly, could be shared to improve results and create new guidelines.
With both Siemens and Medtronic, executives said no money has changed hands, though it may sometime in the future.
"We developed both of these partnerships because we think they're both about developing value-based care," MUSC Health CEO Dr. Pat Cawley said. "They'll be a little different in their approach, but in the end, it's about the same thing."
The conversation with the Medtronic chief focused on a stated goal for each organization: delivering better care at a lower cost to patients with chronic diseases. Ishrak promised to make the commitments needed to ensure the company's technologies actually benefit patients.
"Our work isn't finished until the technology has been applied successfully so that patients can actually benefit from that technology," he said, whose company employs 86,000 workers and has a stock market value of about $124 billion. "If further investment is required, as it almost always is, to achieve that purpose, that's our responsibility."
It is not the first partnership of its kind Medtronic has forged. It announced a similar working arrangement with Lehigh Valley Health Network about a year ago.
Not many specifics were disclosed about the local partnership, but MUSC leaders called it "enterprise-wide and strategic." They saud they will test the waters with four areas of care: joint replacements, tracheotomies, vascular disease and respiratory monitoring.
One objective is to combine "Medtronic therapy and technology expertise and MUSC's clinical and academic expertise to create a more connected and coordinated care model." The ultimate goal, Cawley said, is to standardize the way patients are treated in specific instances. That should improve patients' results.
"We're going to work on it over time," he said.