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Our Recent Experience With US healthcare

Let me tell you a story about US healthcare and a situation occurring as we speak…..

A patient father contacts Poiesis Medical for the Duette™, stating that his son, paralyzed in 2009, has been having horrible episodes with UTIs and bladder spasms. The Cleveland Clinic in Westin Florida is the son's care provider. Since 2009, the son has been using the Foley, designed 75 years ago. I explain to his father that it might be difficult to get the Duette™ into the Cleveland Clinic Westin, because I am pretty sure one probably has to go through the main Campus in Ohio. He responded, “Don't worry, I will ensure my son is allowed to use the Duette™.”  Sure enough, the urology department contacted Poiesis asking whether they could utilize the Duette™. Samples were provided and results to date have been nothing less than unbelievable. The patient has not had any adverse events and NO UTIs for the past seven months. Previously he had constant battles with UTIs.

You might think this story ends on this happy successful note; but no, here is where big corporate meets lack of empathy. Poiesis realized that gaining access to the US hospital markets it would require attaining "on contract” status with one of the main US Group Purchasing Organizations (GPO). These are large billion-dollar operations that stand as a major hurdle for innovation and progress to better care. For basic supplies and other me-too items, they serve their purpose of price control and long, exclusive contracts. However, access can take well over a year for innovators seeking entry for new products that will improve patient care!

Poiesis knew what was required and, after a long period, did gain entry to Cleveland Clinic's GPO. Even the attending Urologist championed the Duette™ through the new product committee (she deserves a hand by the way). The Purchasing Department contacted Poiesis and indicated that they do receive many complaints about the catheter tip and hematuria events. At this point, things are looking good for Patient-Centric Care and the Patient Experience. I really began to believe that the Patient First program really had teeth and the Cleveland Clinic was following through with its promise to actually put the patient first.

Let me take a moment to recount why the Patient First Program came to be at the Cleveland Clinic: An interesting exchange between Dr. Toby Cosgrove (CEO Cleveland Clinic) and a Harvard student sets the table for the new US healthcare system, this was the title for exchange; but we know differently.

“Toby was speaking to Harvard Business School about the clinic model. There was a young MBA student sitting in the front row and she raised her hand, ‘Dr. Cosgrove, my father is a physician, fairly wealthy, lives in Virginia, and he needed mitrovalve surgery.’ Now, Toby, at the height of his practice was probably the world leader in mitrovalve surgery—he actually pioneered mitrovalve repair. She said, “We know that you’re the number one heart center in the world and you’re a famous heart surgeon, but we chose not to come to Cleveland Clinic and went to Mayo instead because you don’t teach empathy to your doctors.” He was floored, silent. You talk to Robert Porter who was teaching the class and knows Toby well and he’s never seen him like this. Toby came back and said, ‘You know what? We need to do more. It’s not good enough to just talk about it, it’s not good enough just to have the Patients First initiative; we must have more of a focus.’ That’s when he launched the Office of Patient Experience and hired a Chief Experience Officer.

Keeping this incident in mind, let me finish the story about a father seeking a better solution for his son and Cleveland Clinic urologist championing the product—a product that is FDA cleared for sale, a company that is on the Clinic's GPO, and finally, because one can't leave cost out, a product that is in line with present Clinic pricing.The Cleveland Clinic informed the father today that he must seek out a source for buying the Duette™ because “we are out of stock.” First, the product was never in stock although Poiesis provided every possible step, as mentioned above, for the Clinic to stock the product. Instead, the Clinic opted to make the father go out and seek the product somewhere else. As I write this on Tuesday, May 14th 2013 the patient’s catheter change is scheduled for Monday 20th of May. Because the father has means and Poiesis' is dedicated to help, it is ensured that the patient’s care will not be interrupted.

Pick one of the many take a ways for this situation—there are so many possible candidates. Empathy should trump all; however, as our story demonstrates, in this particular situation that has not been the case.

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