Good health is good business in Wisconsin

    The quality of health care in Wisconsin is often touted as a vital asset to the state’s short- and long-term economic growth. According to a 2011 report by the Wisconsin Hospital Association, Healthy Hospitals, Healthy Communities: The economic impact of Wisconsin’s hospitals, the hospital systems generated $28 billion in economic activity statewide in 2009. Hospitals, healthcare networks and research institutions have garnered dozens of awards for service delivery and innovation in the last ten years.

    To help spread the word, the Wisconsin Hospital Association has launched a national campaign to raise awareness of the quality and value of health care in the state among employers currently operating in Wisconsin, and those contemplating a move here.

    Top-performing healthcare systems throughout Wisconsin
    Bellin Health and ThedaCare facilities service Wisconsin’s Fox Valley region; the renowned Marshfield Clinic has locations in Central, Northern and Western Wisconsin; the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics service the Madison region. Southeastern Wisconsin is served by Aurora Health Care, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare; Columbia St. Mary’s and ProHealth Care, while six groups provide service on the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center (MRMC) campus in Wauwatosa.

    The MRMC campus is home to the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, The Blood Research Institute of the BloodCenter of Wisconsin, Curative Care Network and Milwaukee County Behavioral Health. About 13,500 people are employed within the MRMC.

    “This brings tremendous value to the region,’ said Dr. John Raymond, president and CEO of MCW. “It’s a dynamic environment where discovery happens.”

    The Medical College has more than 5,400 faculty and staff, with more than 4,500 working on the campus and the remainder at other facilities in Eastern Wisconsin. Most physicians who staff the clinics and hospitals on the MRMC campus are full-time faculty physicians of the college. Medical College physicians also are on staff at the Clement J. Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Milwaukee.

    The Medical College recently announced plans to expand into the Green Bay area, where it is expected to reside at St. Norbert College in DePere. An expansion into the Wausau region is also planned.

    Green Bay and Wausau will provide fertile training grounds for the Medical College.

    “They are largely untapped areas,” Raymond said.

    Froedtert is the primary adult hospital affiliate of the college in Southeastern Wisconsin. Investments in cutting-edge technology and specialized treatment programs have allowed Froedtert to draw patients from across the United States as well as other parts of the world, according to Catherine Jacobson, President and CEO of Froedtert Health. That system is made up of Froedtert Hospital, Community Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls, St. Joseph’s Hospital in West Bend and Froedtert Health Clinics.

    In addition to attracting patients and top talent, Jacobson cites another big benefit to the system’s presence in the region.

    “Quite frankly, we attract business,” she said.

    Biotech and biomed: better, stronger, faster healthcare delivery
    The emergence of Wisconsin’s biotechnology/biomedical industry has seen continued success in the creation of better, more efficient medical devices and drug developments, positioning Wisconsin at the forefront of such medical advancements. According to BioForward, the state association for Wisconsin’s bioscience industry and a state chapter of the national Biotechnology Industry Organization, bioscience has an annual economic impact of nearly $7 billion.

    The Madison region has developed over the years as a biotechnology hub, boosted by the University of Wisconsin, a public research institution that has attracted young talent from various spots around the world. The University of Wisconsin’s Biotechnology Center is designed to be a catalyst to advance biotechnology research, education and industry. The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), the university’s technology transfer arm, is among the best-known in the intellectual property community.

    Innovation and economic impact
    A recent study was conducted by Battelle, a nonprofit, independent research and development organization, in partnership with the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). It indicated Wisconsin’s bioscience industry has created nearly 31,000 jobs in 1,366 businesses in the state. The report named Wisconsin as one of eight states, and the only state in the Midwest, that saw industry growth of 5 percent or more from 2007 to 2010, when national employment in the biomedical industry fell 1.4 percent.

    UW-Madison was once home to Dr. James Thomson, the father of stem cell research and discovery. His legacy continues through his work as founder and chief scientific officer for Madison-based Cellular Dynamics International and through his work as an educator and researcher.

    Wisconsin is also a national leader in healthcare innovation through information and medical device technologies.
    Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation’s Heart Health Mobile app recently won the Department of Health and Human Services Challenge, part of its Million Hearts initiative, intended to leverage clinical and community prevention strategies to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. The app is designed to help consumers assess their risk of heart attack or stroke and direct them to health screening locations in their community.

    As the winner, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation will receive $100,000 to support the app’s development and future versions.

    “Our goal with Heart Health Mobile was to develop an app that can help people live healthier lives,” Simon Lin, MD, app project leader and director of the Biomedical Informatics Research Center at Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, said in a news release. “The app gives people a fun, interactive tool that lets them track key risk factors for heart attacks and strokes, while monitoring improvement.”

    The Marshfield Clinic Health System also created one of the first electronic medical records systems in the country, and has records of its patients dating back to 1962, said Oliver Dagnan, Chief Technology Officer.

    “As the medical field transitions to more real-time patient care and accountable care models, having those electronic records that span across generations will be extremely important to how patient care is rendered,” he said.

    Marshfield Clinic commercialized its electronic medical records system as Cattails MD, which provides the system as an integrated software solution for other health care providers.

    According to Dagnan, the clinic is in the process of rewriting its system again to account for a more real-time, event-based computing model with mobile factors and capabilities.

    “We’re always innovating, and that’s the direction that patient care is moving,” Dagnan said. “We’re building in more patient-centered features including image sharing, discussion capabilities and projection features for group collaboration opportunities.”

    Healthcare innovation in Wisconsin isn’t limited to universities and health systems. Judith Faulkner, a UW-Madison alum, founded EPIC Systems, a privately held healthcare informatics company, in 1979. Headquartered in Verona, WI, the company offers an integrated suite of healthcare software related to patient care, registration, scheduling and more. The company employs more than 6,000 people worldwide.

    “EPIC is certainly a Wisconsin startup success story,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “It stemmed from research and necessity.”

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