This year marks the 15th anniversary of Intermountain Healthcare's Cardiovascular (CV) Clinical Program. Below, we share some of the program's achievements in clinical quality, service quality, and cost savings since the program was created.

Initiatives

Cardiac Cath Lab Quality and Safety

As part of the quality improvement process, the Cardiovascular Clinical Program each year develops a set of goals. In 2010, program goals included six prioritized processes of care: radiation safety; minimizing infection rates; assuring proper pre-procedure verification; improving medication safety; enhancing effective lab communication; and developing clinical emergency guidelines. Baseline data from 2009 site surveys showed compliance in these areas ranging from 76%-93%. Working with cath lab managers, nurses, and physicians along with our quality and compliance consultants, the Cardiovascular Clinical Program in 2010 achieved an overall compliance score of 96.9%-exceeding our stretch goal.

Radiation Safety and Minimization

In collaboration with the Intermountain Radiology Program over the next two years, the Cardiovascular Clinical Program will address the ionizing radiation delivered at all Intermountain Healthcare facilities. For common major x-ray tests or procedures, we will monitor, measure, and report the cumulative radiation for each patient-and make the information available and understandable to both the patient and provider.

Prevention of Unnecessary Readmissions after a Heart Attack

Eliminating unnecessary or avoidable hospital readmissions is one measure of the quality of healthcare patients receive. It is also one way to reduce overall healthcare costs. A recent report by the Cardiovascular Clinical Program estimated that approximately 230 cardiovascular readmissions have been prevented for our acute coronary syndrome patients by implementing care process models and quality improvement projects. The average cardiovascular admission costs between $11,000 and $13,000, so these prevented readmissions translate to an estimated savings of $2.9 million in healthcare costs.

Programs

Advanced Structural Heart Disease Program at Intermountain Medical Center

In the past, heart valve or other heart anomalies were treated only with open heart surgery or medications. Recent technical developments allow for heart repairs using catheters inserted from the leg and without open heart surgery. Intermountain Medical Center's cardiovascular program includes catheter-based repairs of aortic valves, mitral valves, holes in the heart, leaky valves, and enlarged aortas. Intermountain Medical Center is recognized as a national leader in this area and participates in several research studies.

Heart Rhythm Program

Intermountain has a leading program in managing abnormal heart rhythms. Five Intermountain hospitals provide specialized care for patients needing pacemakers, defibrillators, or ablations (a catheter-based approach to resolving "short-circuits" in the heart). Outcomes are tracked, and the results exceed national standards.

Achievements

Outstanding Heart Failure Care at Intermountain

Eighteen Intermountain hospitals participate in the American Heart Association's Get With the Guidelines® program for Heart Failure. This program rewards hospitals that consistently apply the scientific guidelines for patient treatment. This year, five Intermountain hospitals were awarded the Silver award; three received the Gold award for their participation.

Leading Heart Transplant Program at Intermountain Medical Center

Data from National Heart Transplant Data released by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) earlier this year showed that of the 122 adult and pediatric programs nationally, Intermountain Medical Center's Adult Heart Transplant Program ranks first-among transplant centers performing more than 10 transplants per year-for three-year patient survival rates.

Research

Intermountain's CV Program is recognized as a leader in clinical research and procedure trials. At Intermountain Medical Center alone, there were about 50 manuscripts and 45 abstracts published last year. The range of topics includes clinical outcomes, population-based studies, genetics, medication trials, and preventive cardiology.

CV Surgery Education

Intermountain hospitals provide a broad range of surgical experience for training and eventual board certification. In addition, the surgical group offers a separate fellowship position designed to provide advanced surgical training for foreign surgeons. Over the 25 years that this fellowship has been offered, surgeons have traveled to Utah from Japan, Italy, Greece, New Zealand, and other locations.

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