At City Club 01.21.05: Cleveland Clinic CEO Cosgrove visions future of healthcare and NEO

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 01/23/2005 - 03:07.

There is no experience to compare to hearing a genius present the future of the world's most complex situation, realizing that genius is leading NEO's most important institution, and is a leader of the world's most important industry, and will save our local economy.

Cleveland Clinic's incoming CEO Delos Cosgrove M.D. presented a full house at the Cleveland City Club with a clear vision on the current and future state of the healthcare industry that is critical to understanding global quality of life, economic development, and our region's national and global potentials - there will be no more important discussions initiated in this region this year.

Bottom line, while it is awesome the Clinic represents over 5% of our area economy, what is remarkable is they are a global leader in the largest and fastest growing industry in the world, and positioned to play a dramatically greater and changing role in our economy and their global industry. They offer much more than their $2.5 billion contribution to the 2004 regional economy, their 29,000 NEO jobs (65,000, with trickle-down), their $310 million in NEO taxes paid, and their $250 million in uncompensated services for area residents in need - the Clinic is our world-class leader in the industry most responsible for improving people's quality of life, and global productivity, at the time when the potentials of the greatest breakthroughs and innovations in the history of healthcare are just becoming apparent, and while more centralized and socialized policy is inevitable. While the fact is the Clinic is a world-class hospital, the true excitement today is not that the Clinic saves lives but that the Clinic is positioned to save the region's life, making Cleveland one of very few true healthcare capitals of the world.

The realities of this potential are mind boggling. While it is impressive the Clinic is already Ohio's top private employer, and operates over a dozen medical facilities in multiple states, consider Cosgrove says not a week goes by when they aren't approached by other cities (like Las Vegas) and other countries to operate other healthcare systems - they are that highly respected and valued. The Clinic is positioned to leverage their top-notch organization and world-class "franchise" into one of the most valuable enterprises on Earth, in the most valuable industry on Earth.

Why the Clinic? Consider their doctors are the best in the world in many fields of practices, and how many lives of heads of industry and state they've saved, and how much respect and good will that guarantees, and see realized the ultimate reward for jobs well done.

We're not just talking about a payback of more hospital beds and patient visits, but the integration of entire other regional and international healthcare systems and medical research and testing operations under one umbrella, leading to dramatically more patents and unique procedures, inventions, devices, companies and industries spawned via the Clinic - and the Clinic is already a major global player in all those fields.

Considering the future of healthcare, as beautifully presented at the recent Futures Forum, recognizes we are still in the dark ages of medicine yet not long from being biotech-managed borgs - overnight we shall see this industry transformed through such innovative fields as stem cell research, nanomedicine, telemedicine, and biomedicine - new hardware, software, science and procedures are reinventing every aspect of this industry, and the Clinic is beautifully positioned to be a world leader in getting us there.

Best of all, the Clinic can have their optimal impact from right here in Cleveland - just give them access to as much land and brainpower as they need, keep local and state economic developers, opportunists and government out of their way (e.g. forget about the voluntary tax concept floating around these days), and expect more miracles from the Clinic daily. They are already operating at a loftier level than any other organization in the region and have nothing to gain here, but a good home for their facilities, staff, spin-offs and investments. How we can help is largely by improving area brainpower to fill all the high paying jobs the Clinic creates, and they are investing in local education to insure they have access to the human resources they require, leaving nothing up to area leadership or chance. Our only risk in this scenario is that the Clinic none-the-less outgrows regional capabilities to support their growth and infrastructure needs.

In the past few years, the Clinic spent in NEO over $1.5 billion on new facilities, and has immediate plans for $500 million in further new construction, including the world's largest heart care complex - 1,000,000 sq. ft. more space, right here in Cleveland. Don't think they are building all this for our shrinking local population and economy - this isn't about taking more from less - they are building the world's greatest healthcare facilities for the entire world - they're the one enterprise in NEO that is growing our entire economic pie, by lifting all boats through tidal progress for the region.

As Cosgrove pointed out, the Clinic has trained a staggering percentage of the world's top heart specialists and here is where the most challenging cases are sent for treatment - we are number one in the world in this specialty, and world-renowned in a dozen other specialties. As the Clinic adds to their facilities, the flow of global patients coming here will increase, as will Clinic leadership in telemedicine and international training and research.

The Clinic has started the first new medical school in the USA in 25 years, with a focus on graduating research fellows, to expand their research and innovation capabilities, which will attract more funding and regional growth opportunities. Last year, the Clinic received over $110 million in funds for research, mostly from our Federal government, and they have been responsible for commercializing many spin off devices and companies - and we've just realized a small fraction of their potential. Expect the Clinic to become an increasingly major player in medical research and innovation at every level, offering the hopeful prospect the Euclid Corridor will in fact soon be home to 100s of valuable new companies. Those companies will not only retain brainpower here in the healthcare industry, but in information technology, engineering, manufacturing and services, not to mention spawn construction for facilities. Within a decade the Clinic's annual economic impact here could exceed $10 billion - far exceed.

It has been big news that Clinic heart specialist Dr. Eric Topol correctly concluded Vioxx has dangerous side effects, three years before this fact became common knowledge, saving uncountable lives and further reinforcing the Clinic's position as the world's leading heart center, Cosgrove pointed out that the Clinic's information system was sophisticated enough to allow them to realize the risks of the drug and to notify all their patients at risk as quickly as possible. Take from these facts that the Clinic becoming a world leader in medical information systems and technology offers an additional multibillion-dollar opportunity for this region - we should be a world center in this field, offering 1,000s of related job opportunities.

Based on what Cosgrove presented at the City Club, and recent trends in local healthcare, it is interesting to consider how long NEO will retain University Hospitals, and Metrohealth, and any other "competitors", in an industry that demands huge facility investments and rewards for unique value in expertise and exceptional technologies and capabilities that are scarce and definitive. Picture a one-world-class provider model for NEO, where all citizens have access to service from the one World Clinic - from a Clinic that far exceeds their current scope and scale, as is inevitable. There you will have access to the world's best doctors, and equipment, and facilities, and information services, which also draw patients from all over the world, because they are the best. Different mixes of procedures will be provided at the Clinic Huron, Clinic Lutheran, Clinic Metro, Clinic Hillcrest, Clinic University, and Clinic Center - and that same organization and model will provide comprehensive services in other regions around the world, all linked together with the world's best information technology and telecommunications. The combined Clinic/University Medical School will be the world's best, and the doctors and researchers graduating will be the best, and will generate the best innovations and inventions in the world, increasingly here in Cleveland, for development in businesses and factories spread all over this region. Such potential to achieve critical mass in so many important ways is unparalleled anywhere else on Earth.