From left, David McCready, Sanjay Pathak, guest speaker Kim Eagle, John Byrne and Mandeep Mehra

From left, David McCready, Sanjay Pathak, guest speaker Kim Eagle, John Byrne and Mandeep Mehra

BWH leadership and cardiovascular staff came together Jan. 22 to celebrate the launch of BWH’s Heart & Vascular Center, a fully integrated and aligned service dedicated to delivering life-giving breakthroughs.

In front of a packed audience inside the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School, Heart & Vascular Center Surgical Director John Byrne, MD, and Medical Director Mandeep Mehra, MD, discussed how, since launching efforts to form an integrated cardiovascular service line one year ago, it has “taken the entire team” to get to this point of forming a truly integrated system.

“While the traditional model had its fair share of success in the 20th century, the 21st century will require a new alignment of efforts between cardiology, cardiac surgery, vascular surgery, cardiac anesthesia, our nursing colleagues and others, to deliver the highest quality care,” said Byrne. Mehra said the center had more than 7,000 inpatient discharges, more than 45,000 outpatient visits and brought in $114 million in research grants in fiscal year 2013.

BWH President Betsy Nabel, MD, said the way the center is restructuring its services will enable it to build on a foundation of excellence to achieve even more.

“The launch of the integrated Heart & Vascular Center marks the next chapter in the long and storied history of our world-class cardiovascular services,” Nabel said.

Three Important Shifts

Executive leadership team members David McCready, MBA, MHA, senior vice president of Clinical Services, and Sanjay Pathak, MBA, MPH, senior vice president of Surgical Services and Imaging, explained that while cardiovascular clinical care and research at BWH have been widely celebrated for decades, the needs of patients and the market are shifting.

“And so we must change with them,” McCready said.

Three major shifts in the past year have helped to form synergies across the various cardiovascular services in the Heart & Vascular Center:

The center’s leadership structure shifted to create an oversight committee that will foster ownership and accountability across the service line.

Collaborative Centers have developed, bridging traditional gaps between subspecialties and bringing together multidisciplinary cardiovascular teams, ensuring seamless clinical operations, improved patient care and advanced research.

A new financial framework will help each Collaborative Center incentivize growth by funding innovative initiatives and awards. In conjunction with Heart & Vascular Center leaders, each center will be responsible for delivering a set of goals and measuring its clinical outcomes and aligning resources and incentives for growth.

These changes promote an integrated, collaborative center that pushes the boundaries of care by focusing on heart disease prevention and heart replacement, repair and recovery.

Matt Fogg, a 24-year-old patient of the center, exemplifies the innovative patient outcomes made possible by the kind of collaboration the center is achieving. Diagnosed with end-stage heart failure two years ago, Fogg was implanted with a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). Over time, targeted treatments improved his heart function to the point where the LVAD was able to be removed—a rare result for patients with LVADs.

“The results Matt achieved are made possible only by the kind of interdisciplinary care we are striving to provide with this new model,” Mehra said.

Fogg attended the Jan. 22 event with his family and thanked his care providers.

“Without you, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said. “I tell everyone to go to the Brigham. It’s the only place to go if you want the best care. Because of your hard work, the future is brighter for all of us.” (Read more about Matt Fogg’s story at right.)

Looking Forward

Keynote speaker Kim Eagle, MD, MACC, director of the Frankel Cardiovascular Center at the University of Michigan Health System, shared how his team created an organizational structure at the Frankel Center, similar to the Heart & Vascular Center, which benefits staff, patients and families.

“In our lifetime, we have never seen pressures on our work like we have now,” he said. “This requires a sense of urgency and a willingness to embrace new opportunities that may pull us out of our comfort zone.”

The day ended with remarks by the distinguished Eugene Braunwald, MD, founding chairman of the TIMI Study Group and former BWH physician-in-chief, about the importance of collaboration.

He explained that medicine has evolved over time as guilds of different professions, such as nurses and physician assistants, with their own sets of rules and value systems.

“They have been in separate silos for all this time, and I think that’s why there’s so much discussion about people doing something great here with this center,” he said.