According to a recent survey of healthcare organizations, 95 percent of respondents reported having some value-based care currently in place, with 57 percent having pilot programs underway or completed. In an era of transitioning to new reimbursement models, every department is being called on to support value-based care, including cardiology. For department leaders seeking possible tactics to support their organization, here are five ways that cardiology departments can support value-based care initiatives.
- Guide healthcare team on best practices for cardiology care.
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease remains the leading cause of death for Americans. Cardiovascular disease also results in the highest direct health expenditures, with heart conditions costing more than 107 billion dollars in 2014. As technological and therapeutic innovations abound, cardiologists should be encouraged by departmental leaders to guide heart patients’ healthcare teams on what care options have the best proven clinical benefits. Low-value, unproven services can be avoided to improve patient care and to contain unnecessary healthcare costs, supporting value-based care initiatives.
- Develop strategies that help remove healthcare disparities.
As cardiologists work closely with patients, they may acquire insight into barriers to care that patients face. Gaps of care continue to be a challenge in healthcare, with disparities by segments including gender, socioeconomic class, and race and ethnicity. Such disparities likely lead to adverse patient outcomes. Cardiology department leaders can facilitate processes where physicians can work with the larger healthcare team to close gaps of care. If an elderly patient tells his cardiologist that he lacks transportation, for example, the cardiologist can alert a healthcare social worker, who can work with the patient to pinpoint affordable community busing for the elderly. Removing barriers to care is a critical component of many value-based care strategies.
- Utilize data analytics.
Robust data analytics can assist cardiologists with clinical decision making. For example, data analytics might indicate to a cardiologist that a diabetic patient who is asymptomatic is beginning to suffer damaged heart tissue. The cardiologist can then order an ECG that she might otherwise have skipped and start treatment such as prescribing ACE inhibitors. In one case study, big data improved cardiology diagnoses by 17 percent. Cardiology department leaders should encourage their facility to utilize software that provides analytics to support value-based care.
- Eliminate data silos.
Cardiology departments utilizing technology that helps eliminate data silos enable practitioners to access cardiovascular images anytime, anywhere needed. This helps referring physicians, cardiologists and other members of the healthcare team better understand a patient’s health history and test results to improve patient care. When a patient in pain goes to urgent care, a physician who can access her latest stress test results from the cardiovascular imaging and information system (CVIS) is better able to assess whether the patient is critical or needs further testing.
- Advocate a positive culture.
Researchers found that patients had a better chance of surviving acute myocardial infarction (AMI) when they were cared for in a hospital with a good work environment, which included positive culture, teamwork and leadership. Patients were 7 percent less likely to be readmitted for heart failure and 6 percent less likely for heart attack when treated at a facility with a positive organizational environment. Takeaway: cardiology leaders can do much to foster a positive culture within their department, both for employee satisfaction and to support value-based care strategies.
As healthcare facilities transition to incorporate value-based care tactics, every department will be called upon to perform more efficiently. From removing barriers of care to utilizing data analytics, there are a number of ways that cardiology departments can do their part to support value-based care.
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