Once upon a time, cardiac procedures were only performed in operating rooms at a hospital. But now many cardiologists are considering the ASC (Ambulatory Surgery Centers) model and performing diagnostic and some interventional procedures there instead of in a hospital.
Chief Clinical Officer for National Cardiovascular Partners and RN Kelly Bemis said, “Cardiologists who embrace the ASC model are finding that they can safely shift a good amount of their diagnostic cases out of the hospital. We have an abundance of data that show these patients do well in an outpatient setting and experience very positive outcomes.”
Cardiologists at the Alaska Heart & Vascular Institute in Anchorage, Alaska began looking for an alternative to the hospital for their patients in late 2013. They were having difficulty securing time at the hospital for procedures and thought that is they opened an ASC, they could use it to take care of patients who needed defibrillators, pacemakers and battery changes.
The Heart and Rhythm Institute of Trinity, an ASC in Trinity, Florida, first performed a cardiology case in 2016. It now delivers a wide range of cardiac procedures five days a week. Sheree Leppinen, RN and Heart & Rhythm Institute of Trinity Administrator said, “Bringing cardiology into ASCs is a great way to deliver safe care more efficiently and at a huge cost savings. Our patients love the experience, especially the safe, comfortable environment and continuity of care. They tell us how much they appreciate having the same caregivers from reception through discharge.”
While cardiology is just beginning to appear in ASCs, the opportunities are huge. Leppinen said, “As the Medicare population continues to increase, hospitals will need to focus on the more acute care patients, allowing surgery centers to perform elective procedures on healthier patients who do not require hospitalization.”
However, there are some challenges. For example, if a cardiologist is employed by a hospital, the hospital may not want them to work in an ASC facility. ASCs compete with hospitals, temporary staffing agencies with entire cath lab divisions and more. For ASCs to succeed, they will need to be able to find and retain staff. Leppinen added, “Considering the type of procedures we are performing, there is always a concern for complications. You need experience cath lab staff who can take care of such emergencies without hesitation.”
Another consideration is that cardiology rooms are traditionally bigger, so ASCs will need to plan for those. Cardiac patients also tend to stay at an ASC longer than other patients, which means a recovery bed is occupied for a longer period of time.
Another impediment is that some states aren’t on board with ASCs performing cardiac procedures, including California and Ohio. This is a barrier for ASCs. For ASCs in other states, it’s wise to build support at the community and political level before moving forward with plans. By getting buy-in, the process will be easier.
February is American Heart Month and Go Red for Women
In honor of National Wear Red Day which is the first Friday of every February the nation comes together wearing red from coast to coast! The common goal is to eradicate heart disease and stroke. Thanks to all the cardiologists and the physicians who are now considering the ASC for some of their procedures!
Talk to an Expert
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About the author: Vikki Harmonay