Kevin Willman
Chief Executive Officer, Navion Healthcare Solutions, a subsidiary of St. Vincent

About 20 years ago, the Indiana Heart Institute was formed by a group of cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and service line leadership at St. Vincent Indianapolis. They identified a strong need for clinical data that would reflect the performance of cardiac care providers individually and as a group.

At the time, the number of data sets was rather small and focused on interventional cardiology and heart surgery. Over time, those data sets have grown to include more than 23 dimensions of cardiac care, such as thoracic surgery; congenital surgery and heart failure registries have also been added. The Indiana Heart Institute was renamed Navion Healthcare Systems to reflect Ascension’s interest in expanding Navion’s services and resources throughout the System and beyond to other healthcare entities.

Subsequently, the national Affordable Care Act required more operational and procedural measures, all designed to improve cardiac care nationally, and that data has been added to Navion’s cardiac care registries, data abstraction and reporting services.

According to Navion’s Chief Information Officer, John Peasley: “As to our Navion cardiac pilot, our key challenge for any sort of data aggregation among Ascension ministries was doing that in a quick, effective and accurate way. We did this pilot for about 11 health ministries, but since the longer-range plan was to roll this out across Ascension’s national footprint, we built the pilot for that expansion. My personal goal was to not add any more than five minutes per quarter to what nurses in the cardiac care units were uploading to the national registries as part of their normal monthly process.”

The Navion cardiac care pilot design conducted late last year and shared with the clinical service line leadership was aligned with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) upcoming Cardiac Care Episode Payment Model (EPM) pilot, in which many Ascension cardiac care units, ministries and providers may be participating.

“Because of Navion’s 25 years of experience and Ascension’s technology investments, our pilot took data that was siloed at the individual ministry level and aggregated it across Ascension to develop actionable reports,” Navion President Kevin Willmann said. “For the first time, benchmark comparisons among Ascension ministries and Ascension [data] in comparison to national benchmarks could be studied. The truth is Ascension does very well against national benchmarks.

“In a few areas where there were high degrees of variability in cardiac care, the Ascension Care Excellence and Performance Excellence teams and Dr. Fry looked at possible solutions to minimize those variables by organizing resources to those providers and health ministries,” Willmann said. “Data like this is a tool to give providers the information they need to continuously improve on best practices across Ascension’s national footprint with a standardized approach.”

“Since the pilot, we have expanded participation with Navion for data aggregation across Ascension for cardiac programs who already participate in STS and ACC:CathPCI Registries," said Murrell.

In support of this work, the National CVSL has approved quality metrics selected by the Interventional Cardiology and Cardiovascular Workgroups respectively based on criteria that were: readily measurable and standardized; actionable, modifiable, and, "cascade-able", in a way that impacts other drivers of quality; and reduced costs, or elimination of unnecessary clinical variability. 

“The aggregated data is prepared and presented regularly in order to identify opportunities for quality improvement and cost reduction, as well as to identify those ministries that may exemplify best practices, who can help educate peer ministries across Ascension,” Murrell continued.  “Initial pilot results and now system-wide reports have been enthusiastically embraced by the clinical teams who are already putting the dashboards to good use. “