Cleveland Clinic Institutes Ambitious Plan to Double Patient Volume

by Greg Slabodkin Managing Editor, Health Data Management

Last year, the Cleveland Clinic cared for more than 2 million patients�an unprecedented number. However, president and CEO Tom Mihaljevic, MD, says it�s a small fraction compared with what the health system can and should be doing.

�The care that we deliver today is of paramount importance to those in need,� Mihaljevic told an audience this week at the Cleveland Clinic�s 2019 Medical Innovation Summit. �What we strive to do is to touch as many people as possible with the highest quality care.�
Mihaljevic said the Cleveland Clinic has an �ethical mandate to grow� and a moral obligation to relieve human suffering. However, he acknowledged that the provider organization �touches far fewer lives than what our brand recognition, our reputation would suggest.�
According to Mihaljevic, the Cleveland Clinic�s market share in the United States is only half a percent. As a result, the Cleveland Clinic has an ambitious plan to double the number of patients that the healthcare organization serves over the next five years�and health information technology is at the core of its strategy.
Adding more facilities and increasing the number of caregivers is not enough to meet this goal and the growing demand for the Cleveland Clinic�s services, according to Mihaljevic.
�We understand that we have to change the way that we deliver care�but we also have to change the tools that we use for care delivery,� he said.
As Centers for Excellence in many specialties both Cleveland Clinic see large numbers of patients.  Mayo Clinic is often compared to Cleveland Clinic in terms of excellence.  By comparison, Cleveland Clinic sees twice the volume of Mayo Clinic and appears to be hard-pressed to see this volume.  Yet they seek to double that volume.
By comparison, Cleveland Clinic is in a much more densely populated region with proximity to the east coast of major metropolitan areas and Pittsburgh.  Cleveland has a major international airport, a 19-minute drive to the clinic via Interstate 71.

The Mayo Clinic lies in a less populated region, and the airport is served by regional airlines with few connecting flights as compared to Rochester, MN. It can be accessed by Rochester’s International Airpor (RST) or Minneapolis-St. Paul’s Hopkin’s (MSP) airport.
Adding more facilities and increasing the number of caregivers is not enough to meet this goal and the growing demand for the Cleveland Clinic�s services, according to Mihaljevic.
�We understand that we have to change the way that we deliver care�but we also have to change the tools that we use for care delivery,� he said.
Scaling an enterprise of this size can be daunting and requires methods of not just increasing or doing more with present facilities.  It will take a sea-change in facilities and technology to reach this very ambitious goal of 4 million patients a year. It will also require insurance companies, health plans transportation services and other support industries to match Cleveland Clinic’s growth curve.
The Cleveland Clinic�s near-term plan calls for the implementation of digital platforms such as telemedicine, data analytics, and artificial intelligence, as the $8 billion healthcare organization looks beyond its core electronic health record system capabilities.
�The new digital and analytic tools and the new way that we process information for better servicing our patients will have a transformative effect on our industry,� added Mihaljevic, who noted that the Cleveland Clinic�s aspiration is to be the best place to receive care anywhere and also to be the best place to work in healthcare.
On Monday, at the Medical Innovation Summit, the Cleveland Clinic and telemedicine vendor American Well announced that they have formed a joint venture company�called The Clinic� which will offer virtual care by leveraging the Cleveland Clinic�s specialists through American Well�s digital health platform, providing patients with online access to care in their homes. American Well is focused on providing telehealth communications and also integrates with Cerner and Epic electronic health record systems.
�This new venture marks the first time that a major digital health technology platform has partnered with a globally recognized healthcare provider to deliver digital solutions for complex healthcare problems,� observed Mihaljevic. �This new digital health service will provide access to world-class Cleveland Clinic expertise and quality of care for patients in the U.S. and internationally.�
Cleveland Clinic’s plan to expand its footprint using telehealth allows primary care doctors to access specialty knowledge as well as affording patients second opinions without traveling to Cleveland. 
Both Cleveland and Rochester are challenged by inclement weather restricting patient travel
Rather than a true partnership where both entities are at risk, it seems to be more of a client-vendor relationship.
Mihaljevic neglected to expand on internal functions for patient flow and reducing paperwork.  By comparison from personal experience, Mayo Clinic already implements patient registration, calendars for the patient on line, instructions for both pre-visit and post visit. The patient is aware of the plan and locations for their services.

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