UPMC-Managed Transplant Hospital Drives Major Economic Benefits for Sicily, Study Finds

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ISMETT, a leading transplant hospital managed by UPMC in Palermo, Italy, boosted the Sicilian economy by €132.5 million in expenditure in 2013, generated nearly 2,000 jobs and provided a net benefit of more than €73 million by retaining patients who otherwise would have traveled outside of Sicily for care, according to a new study by the Battelle Memorial Institute.

The results of this study reach beyond ISMETT and Sicily, and are evidence of the positive economic benefits generated when high-quality health care combines with cutting-edge research.

ISMETT, a leading transplant hospital managed by UPMC in Palermo, Italy, boosted the Sicilian economy by €132.5 million in expenditure in 2013, generated nearly 2,000 jobs and provided a net benefit of more than €73 million by retaining patients who otherwise would have traveled outside of Sicily for care, according to a new study by the Battelle Memorial Institute. At the same time, the partnership with UPMC provided access to research, training and advanced health care management that is transforming Sicily into a biomedical hub for the entire Mediterranean basin.

Formally known as the Istituto Mediterraneo per i Trapianti e Terapie ad Alta Specializzazione, ISMETT has performed more than 1,600 transplants since it began operations in 1999. An unusual public-private partnership among UPMC, the Region of Sicily and Cervello and Civico hospitals, ISMETT is the only hospital in Italy designed and intended exclusively for solid organ transplantation and highly specialized therapies. It boasts patient survival rates that are among the best in Europe and treats more than 30,000 patients a year with severe organ disease.

"The results of this study reach beyond ISMETT and Sicily, and are evidence of the positive economic benefits generated when high-quality health care combines with cutting-edge research,” said Bruno Gridelli, M.D., chief executive officer of ISMETT and executive vice president of UPMC International Services. “When health care and its various elements—therapy, training and research—are properly managed, they can be powerful forces in the financial and social growth of an entire region.”

To identify and quantify the economic and social benefits of ISMETT for Sicily, UPMC commissioned this detailed analysis from Battelle’s Technology Partnership Practice. The study examined the direct impact of expenditures made by ISMETT, its employees and visitors, as well as the indirect, or multiplier, effects. The researchers also assessed the many and varied “functional impacts” of ISMETT, or those generated by its clinical services, research and development activity, and education of medical staff.

In 2013, the overall impact of ISMETT’s expenditures on the Sicilian economy included €67.9 million directly and €64.5 million through the indirect, multiplier effect. ISMETT and its related economic activities generated 1,793 jobs in Sicily—862 direct and 931 indirect. Battelle estimated that Sicily receives €3.1 million in annual taxes because of ISMETT’s operations, while the Italian national government receives approximately € 19.6 million annually.

As expected when ISMETT was created, the hospital’s presence has reversed the trend of Sicilian patients traveling abroad to receive transplants and high-specialty care, which means more convenience for patients and their families and significant savings for the regional government. According to Battelle, the presence and operation of ISMETT retained a net €73.2 million in the Sicilian economy that otherwise would have been spent outside the region to pay for care, patient transportation and associated costs. Ninety-two percent of ISMETT’s patients are from Sicily, while the rest come from other Italian regions or from abroad.

ISMETT also is an institution that is helping Sicily to build a reputation for science, technological advancement, research and specialty medical training. This has helped to pave the way for the planned Biomedical Research and Biotechnology Center in Carini, which will employ more than 600 people when it opens in 2017. The government-funded center will operate under the leadership of the Ri.MED Foundation, a partnership of UPMC, the government of Italy, the Region of Sicily and the Italian National Research Council.

“Originally seen as an institution that would fill a gap in clinical services in Italy, ISMETT has succeeded beyond our expectations and has grown to become a major economic engine for the Sicilian economy,” said Dr. Gridelli. “Most importantly, ISMETT is improving the well-being of patients throughout Italy and beyond and promises to advance health and science for years to come.”

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About UPMC
A world-renowned, $12 billion health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of accountable, cost-effective, patient-centered care. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 60,000 employees, more than 20 hospitals, more than 500 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, a more than 2.5-million-member health insurance division, and international and commercial operations. Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC ranks No. 12 in the prestigious U.S. News & World Report annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals — and No. 1 in Pennsylvania. For more information, go to UPMC.com.

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