UPMC banking on continuing to export its medical expertise
UPMC's transplant center, Istituto Mediterraneo per i Trapianti e Terapie ad Alta Specializzazione (ISMETT, in Palermo, Italy.
Share with others:
Nearly 20 years have passed since UPMC opened a transplant center in Italy, the first major foray into international care for the region's largest health system.
Currently, UPMC has international operations in six countries: Ireland, Italy, China, Singapore, Japan and the United Kingdom. Its involvement ranges from UPMC Beacon Hospital in Dublin, which it owns and operates, to various consulting and service contracts, such as the one providing electronic medical records software and support for the Royal Berkshire National Health Service Foundation Trust in Reading, England.
UPMC, building on its success with the Italian transplant center in Palermo, is now set to develop and co-manage a biomedical center in Sicily, scheduled to open in 2015.
In all, the health system has more than 1,400 employees working overseas with plans for more once the challenging international economic climate improves.
Charles Bogosta, president of UPMC's International and Commercial Services Division, says plans to work with a developer on a new facility in Cyprus have been put on hold. "The economic crisis that has hit the world market has slowed things down as far as potential for people to find partners to finance projects."
But he also has seen the early signs of a turnaround in the past six months.
Short-term, Mr. Bogosta believes the best opportunities for UPMC are in Italy, where officials plan to break ground in the next 12 months on a new biomedical research facility near Palermo. They also plan to open a cancer center in Rome this summer, featuring an advanced radiosurgery program housed on leased space in an existing hospital.
"There's just a lot of activity in Italy right now."
Long-term, though, UPMC is looking east.
For the past year, it has been providing second opinion pathology consultation for the largest independent diagnostic laboratory in China. Then, in December, UPMC officials announced a collaboration with the Asian Centre for Liver Diseases and Transplantation to establish a liver and kidney transplant program in Singapore serving throughout Asia and the Middle East.
In addition, UPMC has a two-year consulting contract to provide clinical teaching, curriculum and faculty development in family medicine for a hospital near Fukuoka, Japan.
The logistics make the Far East a "much more long-term" project, said Mr. Bogosta. Between regulatory, political and cultural issues, "The systems and the economies are not set up for the opportunities we can provide."
UPMC's annual report said its International and Commercial Services Division lost $6 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, but Mr. Bogosta said the accounting loss was in capital investments, research and other areas. UPMC Beacon in Dublin, the health system's largest overseas investment, has a positive operating margin, he said, as do the international operations overall.
First Published March 20, 2012 12:00 am