Duke Health and WakeMed collaborate their heart programs to increase resources

<p>The collaboration will allow patients to have&nbsp;access to specialized services like heart transplantation that are&nbsp;not currently available at WakeMed.</p>

The collaboration will allow patients to have access to specialized services like heart transplantation that are not currently available at WakeMed.

Beginning March 1, the heart programs at Duke University Health System and WakeMed Health and Hospital will be integrated into one service.

The program, called Heart Care Plus+, was conceived from discussions between Duke Health and WakeMed that began in June 2014. According to a Duke Today release, the program seeks to combine Duke’s renowned cardiology and heart surgery services—ranked number five by U.S. News and World Report—with WakeMed’s network of practices throughout Wake County. 

“The WakeMed team has done an outstanding job of distributing services across Wake County and the communities where patients and families live and work,” Tom Owens, chief medical officer of Duke Health, said in a Heart Care Plus+ video release. “Working with them, Duke can add an additional layer of services, not only for those more specialized patients, but bringing opportunities to participate in research [and] giving patients the opportunity to participate in clinical trials.”

The two parties have had similar collaborations in the past. In 2012, Duke Health and WakeMed, along with Duke Private Diagnostic Clinic, created the Duke Children’s and WakeMed Children’s Specialty Services Clinic to increase access to speciality pediatric care for children and families in the Triangle area.

However, the heart program collaboration was not a merger between Duke Health and WakeMed, and the two will continue to operate independently.

According to the Heart Care Plus+ website, in addition to increasing access to clinical trials through Duke Clinical Research Institute, the collaboration will allow patients access to specialized services not currently available at WakeMed, such as transplantation.

“When fully operational, patients in Wake County will be able to access the highest quality cardiovascular specialty services—based on their specific disease and condition—at the most medically appropriate and convenient locations,” William J. Fulkerson Jr., executive vice president of Duke Health, said in the release.

The integration of the programs through Heart Care Plus+ will begin March 1, although there will be a transition period that will last a few months. During this period, new services will be introduced through the collaboration.

Additionally, other collaborations are in the process. Duke Health and WakeMed are in the final stages of discussing a similar partnership to integrate their respective cancer services throughout Wake County.

This type of integration of resources is becoming more common in the health industry. Last December, the University of Pennsylvania Medicine announced that it will merge with Princeton HealthCare System in order to expand delivery of their medical services.

The Duke Today release noted that both Duke Health and WakeMed believe that going forward, cooperation in health care delivery is a necessity. 

David Zaas, president of Duke Raleigh Hospital, noted in the video release that these types of partnerships represent a new future for health care.

“We’ve evolved from focus on health care to the health of our community,” Zaas said. “In some ways, it ushers in a new area of health care—looking for partnerships and how we work together to achieve a common good.”


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