By: Toby Cosgrove, MD
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Every year, thousands of Americans with life-threatening aortic valve disease are told they are too old, too sick or too frail to undergo reparative surgery. Many hospitals are able to tell these patients what’s wrong with them; the vast majority will also tell them they’re simply out of luck.
Cleveland Clinic, however, didn’t find such an answer acceptable. Through extensive research and innovation, we pioneered a new minimally invasive procedure to replace diseased aortic valves in patients who are considered too old, frail or sick for conventional surgery. The technique is called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), which was approved by the FDA this year. Already, we’re performing more than a dozen a week.
TAVR is a revolutionary procedure, one of the many innovations that is helping America cope with the diseases of aging. Yet as innovative as medicine already is, we could be doing far better.
Improving standard of care
Here’s a stunning fact: It takes 13 years to take a new healthcare innovation from the point where we’ve demonstrated its benefit to the point where it has been established as the standard of care.
We need to reform our medical institutions so that they energize innovation through clearly articulated goals and strategies, and so that their culture does not automatically discourage the new and untried. In our society, medical advances are brought to the patient bedside through the mechanism of the marketplace.
Investing in innovation
At Cleveland Clinic, we’ve created a technology transfer organization that takes innovations created by our 3,000 doctors, invests in them, determines if they are commercially viable and if they are, license, patent, and start companies around them.
We now have almost 300 patents issued in the last 10 years, with 1,700 in the queue. We have spun off 45 start-ups. We want those ideas out and in use.
Recently, Cleveland Clinic Innovations – our tech transfer arm – sponsored Cleveland Clinic’s 10 annual Medical Innovation Summit. More than 800 leaders in healthcare, business, law, finance, media and research came together in one place to share information, debate ideas and promote medical innovation for the good of patient care everywhere. Few issues can be more critical to the health of our nation.