Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Duke, WakeMed Team Up to Improve Heart Care

— WakeMed and Duke Health said Tuesday that they plan to collaborate to improve cardiovascular care in Wake County by offering a broader scope of services and greater value and affordability.

Heart Care Plus+ isn’t the start of a merger between the two rival health care systems, officials said, but it will provide area patients more options for quality heart care when it starts on March 1.

“We believe we can introduce things that don’t exist in health care in Wake County now,” said Dr. William Fulkerson, executive vice president of Duke Health. “We believe we can improve care in Wake County where patients can get the right care at the right place at the right time.”

WakeMed treated almost 20,000 heart patients at its Raleigh and Cary hospitals last year, and the collaboration is designed to expand that to more people and extend it into cardiovascular-related issues, such as stroke care. The two systems say people travel to Durham from around the world for heart care at Duke University Medical Center, and they want to provide the same level of care to Wake County residents.

“They’re outstanding doctors at WakeMed and outstanding doctors at Duke, and we think, working together, we can be even better than what we can be independently right now,” Fulkerson said.

Under the deal, most services will continue to be offered at WakeMed hospitals and physician practices, but Duke physicians will provide added specialty services, and transplants and other complex surgical procedures will be done at Duke University Hospital.

Donald Gintzig, chief executive of WakeMed, said the combination will help delivery quality care while controlling costs.

“How do you improve quality, and how do you create access … at greater value? Collaboration,” Gintzig said. “You need to compete, but you want to collaborate to achieve those three aspects.”

Duke Health and WakeMed are also in discussions about a similar collaboration involving cancer services in Wake County.

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