Charleston, S.C. – March 2019 – Gloria Mihalenko is the first to admit she put off visiting the doctor. “I take my dog to the vet before I go to the doctor,” she laughed. But eventually she could no longer bear the pain in her legs.
Fifty years of smoking had caused serious artery problems. Gangrene had set in. Gloria faced amputation.
“I definitely did not want to have my leg cut off,” she said. So, she tried one last consultation.
Two and a half hours away, vascular surgeons at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) examined Gloria via a remote video consultation.
“I said ‘no promises, but I think we at least have a chance to help you,’” said Dr. Ravikumar Veeraswamy, director of vascular surgery at MUSC Health. “At that point she came to Charleston and we were able to do some surgeries to help save her leg.”
Gloria is back on her feet these days. She recently came back to MUSC Health for a follow-up visit with Elizabeth Genovese, M.D., who is helping get her leg and foot back to normal.
Dr. Veeraswamy specializes in treating the kind of vascular disease that nearly cost Gloria her leg. He sees a lot of it, but he hopes a groundbreaking new agreement between MUSC and Medtronic will do something about it.
Medtronic and MUSC are teaming up on a five-year, value-based health care partnership aimed at improving health care for South Carolinians while lowering the cost. “Our hope is that the partnership will help make the process much more seamless, so that patients can receive treatment faster,” Veeraswamy said.
“In its clearest form, in a value-based health care partnership, we work with the health system to deliver the right technology, to the right patient, at the right time, in a consistent and accountable way,” said Christian Howell, vice president of value-based health care partnerships at Medtronic.
In the case of vascular disease, Medtronic will help establish programs aimed at identifying and diagnosing patients like Gloria sooner, particularly in rural areas. Medtronic will also help develop systems to organize medical records and analyze medical data to streamline a patient’s journey through the health care system.
The inertia of a fee-for-service system has to be broken.Omar Ishrak, Chairman and CEO, Medtronic
MUSC Health is South Carolina’s only comprehensive academic medical center and serves patients from all over the state.
That large footprint can complicate care because patients often receive evaluation and diagnosis at remote sites before reaching MUSC.
“We think the data analytics, risk stratification, and care pathways capabilities that Medtronic provides, and the early detection methodology, can help us more effectively link some of these remote sites where we discover patients who need treatment and get them appropriately connected to MUSC for faster intervention,” said Caroline Brown, director of external affairs and special assistant to the president at MUSC.
We have to transform the way we do things. That’s where MUSC and Medtronic are linked. We both believe in the future of value-based care.Dr. Patrick Cawley, CEO of MUSC Health
The financial structure of the agreement is tied to improving outcomes for patients while reducing the cost of care. This is value-based care, as opposed to the typical health care system of paying for treatment whether it works or not. When appropriate, Medtronic will align its technologies that can make a meaningful patient impact, and build business models where Medtronic takes accountability for those outcomes.
“We have to transform the way we do things,” said Dr. Patrick Cawley, CEO of MUSC Health. “That’s where MUSC and Medtronic are linked. We both believe in the future of value-based care.”
The February partnership announcement in Charleston is the latest major value-based partnership for both MUSC and Medtronic. In 2018, MUSC announced a strategic partnership with Siemens Healthineers, and Medtronic established a partnership with Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley Health Network.
“There’s general consensus from everyone around the world who’s thought about it, that a fee-for-service system is not sustainable,” said Omar Ishrak, chairman and CEO of Medtronic. “And everyone will say that a value-based system is where we have to go. But how becomes a question. And we want to take that on.”
In addition to vascular disease, initial programs in the MUSC/Medtronic partnership will also focus on joint replacements and post-surgical breathing challenges. Every program will be measured and the successes, or failures, will be shared. And the health care world will be watching.
“The inertia of a fee-for-service system needs to be broken,” said Ishrak. “It’s not going to happen overnight. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start to move the needle.”