Earlier in the year, the Ascension Cardiovascular Clinical Service Line Rapid Design Session gathered clinical service line leadership and providers from across the continuum of Ascension’s cardiac care, including thoracic surgeons, cardiologists, support staff and more, to review clinical key performance data and nonclinical aspects of Ascension’s cardiac care. The group also received updated information on the CMS Cardiac Care Episode Payment Model (EPM) pilot.

Based on this shared information, the Cardiac Care Model team was launched with the goal of providing overall assessment of cardiac care Systemwide, and the development of specific solutions and strategies to eliminate unwarranted variations. This important effort includes identifying elements that impact care settings before and after a patient’s journey of care.

In the area of clinical protocols, shared data on key performance indicators in cardiac care provides an evidence-based approach to best care throughout Ascension’s many cardiac care centers and ministries. One example, the Navion Pilot, collected and aggregated data on critical cardiac procedures among 11 Ascension ministries, comparing key indicators for best patient outcomes.

Specifically, the pilot compared outcomes for patients requiring percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) and coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). These procedures are the same to be included in the upcoming Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Cardiac Care Episode Payment Model (EPM) pilot, which may include many of Ascension’s ministries and cardiac care units from across the country, given the System’s large national footprint.

Dr. Fry explained examples of the improvements in best practices for cardiac care that came from some of this information: “An example of an immediate improvement came from looking at the level of bleeding the patient experienced given a variance in changing the axis of entry from the femoral artery to the radial artery approach in a coronary intervention. Sharing evidence-based data with our cardiac care units and providers results in immediate and significant improvements to our patient outcomes; that makes for a better provider experience and, at the same time, this quality improvement saves costs."

“I’m a believer that if you continuously work to improve the quality of our procedures as it relates to better outcomes, you inevitably reduce costs,” Dr. Fry continued. “Another example from the Navion Pilot is the data on certain drugs used during cardiac care."

“There exists wide variation in the use of some of these drugs throughout Ascension’s cardiac care units. By sharing this information, we provide for a process of continuous improvement, enabling us to learn from each other and develop new best practices that better serve our cardiac care patients Systemwide."

“Because of Ascension’s early investment and commitment to data collection technology, we are well-positioned to provide the resources necessary for our ministries involved in the CMS Cardiac Care EPM pilot.”

“We believe that whether or not CMS continues with this particular pilot, or a version of it, given the new political administration in Washington, D.C., Ascension is committed to the work of our Care Model team to standardize care where possible and eliminate unwarranted variables because it’s the right thing to do for our patients, our providers and Ascension, as national leaders in cardiac care,” Dr. Fry concluded.