Leaders in Healthcare

Sharing knowledge and expertise

Cathy Easter, President & CEO of Houston Methodist Global Healthcare, was one of five women leaders across the globe who received a recognition award for their contribution to UAE’s success by the Bilateral US-Arab Chambers at a VIP event in November in Abu Dhabi. Middle East Health spoke to her about the award and Houston Methodist.

Middle East Health: Part of your award is for the sharing of knowledge and technological expertise by Houston Methodist with the medical profession in the UAE. Can you give some detail about this?

Cathy Easter: We have had an office in the UAE since 2008 and that has been our hub for the EMEA region. We have had a number of engagements from building the master plan for a medical city to developing a plan to upskill nurses.

Middle East Health: What has been shared?

Cathy Easter: We focus primarily on knowledge transfer regarding development and operations of high quality health care projects which can be either governmental or private. We also focus a great deal on education and training for health professionals in the region.

Middle East Health: How was it shared?

Cathy Easter: We have a few different models. We actually provide services where we can share our expertise in developing and managing an outpatient facility or multispecialty hospital. We can look at the market and assist a client with market assessment or develop a business plan. We can also work with existing organizations and their leadership to provide them with relevant experts from Houston Methodist to solve some of the challenges that are facing them in their specific organization, whatever those may be. We recognize that we must work to adapt proven methodologies to support the culture within the UAE and the region.

Middle East Health: How do you think this has helped healthcare in the UAE?

Cathy Easter: I think that we have made a good start with our current work with Meraas and the Valiant Clinic [in Dubai], which has enabled us to provide our expertise and management experience with an incredibly well respected brand and leadership team to provide world class healthcare services. We are also extremely encouraged to work in such an innovative environment with a partner that values innovation. Further integration of people’s personal health information through wearables and similar platforms in a touch clinical environment will give us an opportunity to greatly assist individuals in taking a more active role in their own health.

Middle East Health: How does this benefit Houston Methodist?

Cathy Easter: We are a global health care provider as well as a global brand. As we have these opportunities to work with other prominent global organizations and physicians, it reinforces how we can assist organizations that are committed to improving the quality of healthcare around the globe.

Middle East Health: It was noted that Houston Methodist was selected for this honour because of its ‘cross-pollinating’ of technologies from the oil industry and health industry. Can you explain this?

Cathy Easter: This occurred through a partnership with Exxon Mobil and Houston Methodist around the concept of “Pumps and Pipes”. The idea came from a prominent physician discussing the movement of blood flow with an oil and gas executive that is faced with similar issues regarding the flow of oil & gas. The idea was sparked and now engineers from both industries as well as aerospace have had a number of successful conferences where they discuss innovation and technology that is being used in their respective fields and how they can learn from one another. This is just one example where the physicians of Houston Methodist really do think differently about problem solving as well as the globalization of health care.

Middle East Health: To what extent is Houston Methodist involved in healthcare in the Middle East / GCC region? Who are they working with, in what countries?

Cathy Easter: We have recently opened an office in Riyadh as we see a number of patients from the Kingdom, but we are also working on a number of projects to assist with the healthcare infrastructure development. Some of them are Greenfield projects and others are with well-established providers. We have also had projects in Kuwait, Qatar and Oman previously. We continue to see patients from the entire GCC.

Middle East Health: Houston Methodist was recently ranked number 1 in the USA for its heart transplant program by CareChex – an independent research company. What sets Houston Methodist’s heart transplant program apart from other such leading program’s in the US?

Cathy Easter: CareChex is an independent health care research company that offers comparisons of hospital services to consumers. The quality ratings come from a database of nearly 40 million patients treated in about 5,000 hospitals across the country. The company examines information on mortality, overall complications, inpatient quality and patient safety to determine the medical excellence ranking for our transplant program. Houston Methodist J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center stands apart as the largest and most comprehensive transplant center in the region and one of the largest heart-lung transplant programs in the world. For more than 50 years, Houston Methodist J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center has been in the vanguard of the organ transplant field. Some of the world’s first transplants were performed here by legendary surgeons Michael E. DeBakey, MD and George P. Noon, MD, in the 1960s, during the frontier days of transplant medicine. In 2015 the team performed its 5,000th transplant, with exponential growth taking place in the last decade. World-class clinical expertise, cutting-edge technology and an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to treatment provide Houston Methodist the ability and agility to respond to needs within the transplant environment quickly and to achieve the best clinical outcomes. An intense focus on research and innovation ensures endless advances in the therapies available to patients. One example of how Houston Methodist is leading heart services is that we are one of the first hospitals in the United States to adopt the CardioMEMS heart failure system to wirelessly monitor patients with compromised heart function. Use of the CardioMEMS monitor significantly reduces hospital admissions for patients with heart failure who continue to struggle with symptoms. In addition, research has documented a significant reduction in 30-day readmissions with the use of this device. In terms of volume, in 2015 Houston Methodist performed 38 heart transplants, and implanted 116 LVADs between 2014 and 2015.

Middle East Health: What does the future hold for Houston Methodist in the GCC and wider Middle East region?

Cathy Easter: Our plan is to keep working with leading organizations that are seeking to improve the care provided in the region through advisory services as well as working to further develop partnerships which focus on clinical development, including education and training of health providers. We are extremely committed to the region and want to focus on improvements to the infrastructure and systems that will enable these efforts to be more sustainable and not episodic. Lastly, we want to continue to provide excellent care and service to those patients that either choose to travel abroad or need to travel due to the nature of their illnesses.

Date of upload: 16th Jan 2017

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