While some hospitals have initiated vascular procedures through cardiology programs because of their size or unwillingness to invest in specific vascular programs, many hospital leaders say that separating the departments and having specific vascular specialty areas is generating improved patient volumes, which result in improved care.
“The ROI is that if you put yourself out there as a state-of-the-art facility for vascular services, you have to be able to provide the best technology and best equipment and supplies for those procedures,” Murray says. “We have to have the best and functional equipment so we can attract physicians. The measure of access success is the functional outcome for the patient.”
The multimillion-dollar projects aren’t easy to maintain, but they are robust and necessary to have all-encompassing vascular care, says Anthony Lee, MD, vascular surgeon and director of the endovascular program at the Christine E. Lynn Heart & Vascular Institute at Boca Raton (FL) Regional Hospital.
Even though it may take time to recoup money and be a financial burden at some point, “the answer is quite simple: A vascular program attracts other businesses; it brings people to the hospital, a kind of bread and butter for a community hospital,” Lee adds. “So now we not only attract the complicated case. But that also attracts other patients, and that will make money.”
Success Key No. 1: Rapid access
A key element for development of improved vascular programs is rapid-access care that has resulted in reduced mortality rates and lowered treatment times. Indiana University Health in Bloomington, IN, implements a level one vascular emergency program in a healthcare delivery system for patients with cardiothoracic and vascular conditions.
Sudden aortic symptoms are life-threatening, and many patients never make it to the operating room. Rapid diagnosis and therapy are vital responses for patients with acute aortic symptoms, says John Fehrenbacher, MD, PhD, FACS a cardiothoracic surgeon with IU Health. “Time-sensitive” treatments are essential for improved outcomes, he says.