American CEOs get an Israeli medical education

Delegation of top hospital heads see state-of-the-art facilities, emergency drill.

surgery doctors transplant slicing 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
surgery doctors transplant slicing 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Descending the Tower, the imposing new state-of-the-art inpatient hospital at Hadassah’s Ein Kerem Medical Center, Joseph Mapa was impressed. The chief executive officer of Toronto’s Mt. Sinai Hospital said he’s seen innovations he would like to bring back to Canada. 
“It’s leading edge. Just the thinking behind it! Healing gardens, patient rooms, square feet, two beds per room, one bed per room, one window per patient ... I mean these are huge developments,” Mapa told The Media Line. “It’s not something we wouldn’t do in the States, or in Canada, and it’s something you certainly want to see and showcased,” he adds.
Mapa was part of a first-ever delegation of CEOs from the top hospitals and medical centers across North America that were visiting Israel this week. This was the brainchild of Rafael Harpaz, the director of the Economic Department for America and Africa at Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
“We think we have a lot to share with our friends and colleagues from the USA and Canada on medical technologies, cutting-edge technologies, readiness and preparedness and managing medical science through computers. I think these are areas where Israel has good experience,” Harpaz told The Media Line.
Israel’s life expectancy is much higher than the US and its systems of socialized medicine ensures that everyone has access to basic healthcare while Israel spends a smaller percentage of its gross domestic product on health. There still are problems, most recently, with doctors striking for higher wages last year. Its major hospitals are equipped with some of the latest medical technologies, which impressed the delegates.
“The American system has many great things, but also many things to learn from this country and I think that the level of medicine here and the level of training is every bit as good as medicine that I see now at the States,” Kevin Tabb, the CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, told The Media Line.
“In the States, for better or for worse, medicine in many ways is a business,” Tabb said. “It’s about making patients better, but it is also a financial business. But in Israel that really is not the case, and that is very interesting for people, especially for people from the United States, less so for Canada.”
Tabb said they shared data on costs and saw how care similar to that offered in the US was extended with fewer resources in Israel.
“It’s amazing to see the relatively small budgets for an Israeli hospital, doing tremendous amount things, on what would be considered a pittance in the US and that’s fascinating,” Tabb said.
The Tower at Hadassah is slated to be opened later this month and crews are busy scuttling around clearing away scaffolding and supplies. Not all of the floors are finished, but the fifth floor is spectacular with parquet floors and equipment still in plastic.
“This has been a tremendous exchange of North American healthcare leaders with Israeli healthcare leaders,” Amir Dan Rubin, president and CEO of Stanford University Medical Center. “While our political and reimbursement and systems are different, and the organization of our health systems are different, at the core we have common missions; taking care of patients and ... research and education.”
“The challenges are similar here,” Rubin said. “We all have issues of how do we provide insurance coverage so there is the payment issue and there is the delivery system, there are access issues, there is improving quality and innovations and while our mechanisms are slightly different those themes are common.”
The group was briefed at Sheba Medical Center and is slated to visit Sourasky Medical Center, Beilinson Hospital - all in Tel Aviv - and Rambam Hospital in Haifa as well as the IDF Medical Forces center in Tzrifin where they will see the emergency unit that deploys at crises around the globe.
“We didn’t anticipate that so many of the CEOs of the big hospitals in North America would come and we are blessed with a delegation which is close to 50 top heads of hospitals and medical centers,” Harpaz said.
“We share the same challenges that we are facing in our medical treatment, and they appreciate that we are doing this but on the other hand they are really impressed by all which Israel has to offer. And we have a lot to offer when it comes to medical technologies.”
At Sheba, the group observed a simulation of a mass casualty event, something that Israeli hospitals constantly drill for. Catherine Zahn, CEO of Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, found the spirit of Israelis compelling.
“There is a societal receptivity to open mindedness and forward thinkingness,” Zahn told The Media Line. “Like Israel, Canadians believe health care is a basic right of a citizen, a basic human right, rather than a commodity to be bought and sold. There is definitely a kinship there, but I think we have a lot to learn from the perspective of the ‘innovation nation’,” Zahn said.
“It’s also interesting to see how the situation in the Middle East, and the involvement of the military in the country actually probably contributes to that resilience and the attitude that if this doesn’t work out lets pick up and do something else,” she added. “Picking up on the advances from military science and translating them into health care advances. Those are all very remarkable.”
These sentiments were echoed by her fellow Canadian, Mapa.
“The Israeli system is spectacular - from clinical care to service, to IT in particular, clinical technology, to crisis management,” Mapa said. “It’s state-of-the-art, I mean, its fantastic. Were excited, but I tell you this not because I am excited, but you see it is evidence based ...and that's what turns us on. Turns me on for sure.”