Can a 50 plus story complex located in Manhattan really be part of the cure for America's ailing healthcare system? And can it – at the same time – offer total transparency between med-tech companies and surgeons? The founders of the yet-to-be-constructed building, named the World Product Centre (WPC), seem to think so, and are saying that the center will be home to innovation and ultimately reclaim the public's trust in med-tech companies.
Even though it seems like a tall order, with a big leap of faith attached, the $1 billion investment has caught the eye of nearly a dozen med-tech companies that have already signed agreements to be a part of the endeavor. The companies will lease space in the WPC product pavilion and be able to use conference rooms and offices in the building. The center boasts giving these companies a place to train surgeons with their upcoming technology – without having to worry about scrutiny regarding these relationships.
Transparency and disclosure of financial relationships in the med-tech industry has become a key point for legislators.
A bill reintroduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin) that would require both drug and device makers to report payments and gifts to physicians that exceed $100 per year to the Department of Health and Human Services has perhaps pushed the kind of need for the WPC.
"A lot of people think something dirty is going in between med-tech companies and their relationships with doctors," John Strong, president of marketing for WPC told Medical Device Daily. "One of the principle things we want to do is remove those concerns and we want to bring companies to an entirely transparent environment. We continue to hear from industry that sales and marketing activities are being regulated and they are looking for new approaches to ensure effective brand visibility and successful business development. A neutral platform offering visibility is at the heart of WPC's mission in one of the world's leading cities for business and medical education. And we're getting tremendous response."
The idea is for the center originated a decade ago and the Greater New York Hospital Association, Extell, a real estate development company and Israel Green, a private investor, have teamed up make the endeavor a reality. It will operate much like a healthcare trade show for these companies – but don't expect them to be packing after the show is over. Instead it will be continuous – or as long as the companies continue to occupy space at WPC. Also it will be the perfect marriage of innovation and education – Strong stressed.
But just how much attention is WPC getting and just who is interested in it?
Just last week those behind the project reported Orthopedics' giant Zimmer (Warsaw Indiana), and Cardinal Health (Dublin, Ohio) being two of the latest companies to jump on the WPC train.
Rountable Healthcare Partners, Avalign Technologies, Bioniche Pharma (all Lake Forrest Illinois,) ACI Medical (San Marcos, California), Aspen Surgical (Caledonia, Michigan) CorePharma (Middlesex, New Jersey), and Excelsior Medical (Neptune, New Jersey) have all been reported as signing on with the project.
Current plans call for more than 120,000 square feet of education and conference space that includes a two-story, 499-seat, fully digitized auditorium. Medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare associations, and WPC itself will offer events of all kinds, including accredited professional and medical education courses.
The building will also feature a Consumer Health Pavilion open to the general public, including students, tourists and other healthcare consumers. The pavilion will offer guided tours, interactive forums, and a wealth of information supporting health literacy, prevention and wellness, as well as information for those people considering careers in healthcare. Hewlett Packard (Palo Alto, California), the world's largest technology company, is designing a vendor-neutral technology infrastructure
WPC will also offer a number of clinical and business "Centers of Excellence" within the building. One planned center is for healthcare facility building, architecture, medical furnishings and "green" construction.
The center is expected to break ground in early 2010 with it becoming fully operational in 2013.