Since 2009, Pittsburgh’s health care industry has learned a lot from Israel.
And vice versa.
Thanks to a multidimensional partnership between the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and Israel, both Pittsburghers and Israelis are certain to be healthier.
Between 2009 and 2013, there have been nine visits between Israeli and Pittsburgh-based health care professionals to both countries, sharing best practices and collaborating around the challenge of providing quality patient-centered care “against the backdrop of rising rates of chronic disease and resource constraints in both countries,” according to Branches, a newsletter published by the JHF.
The knowledge gained on both sides of the ocean has been invaluable, according to Karen Wolk Feinstein, JHF president, and co-chair of the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative (PRHI).
“Some [of the partnership’s benefits] cannot be measured,” Feinstein said. “We learned a lot about what’s good and bad in our system by having a comparative system. … Israel spends half of what we do per capita for health care, and they have a very superior population health. It was eye opening for us.”
While the superior health of the Israeli population can be attributed, in part, to a better diet and more exercise, it is also tied to the Jewish state’s “superb primary care system,” Feinstein said.
The health care partnership included collaboration between the JHF and Israel’s largest HMO, Clalit Health Services.
The partnership has allowed the JHF and Clalit to engage in a comparative system analysis, including a look at Clalit’s focus on minimizing the disparity of care between at-risk and more affluent populations, Feinstein said.
The Israeli health care professionals who have participated in the partnership proved to be excellent resources, Feinstein said.
“There is no way for me to understate the talent of the people with whom we meet,” she said. “We have benefitted from the high intellectual quality of the academics and those in managerial positions.”
Since 2009, the JHF has brought more than 30 Israelis, establishing “an amazing ongoing relationship with all of them,” Feinstein said.
“There’s a tie to Israel that we don’t have to anyone else,” she said. “There’s a natural kinship that’s actual, and not contrived. We are sort of extensions of one another.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)