Cardiovascular Regionalization and Network Strategy

Imperatives for Defining the Service Line's Role in an Integrated Market

Establish an effective strategy for coordinating services across sites of care: efficiently allocate resources, standardize operations, ensure a uniform patient experience, integrate with newly affiliated CV specialists, and form lasting network affiliations.

Executive Summary

Cardiovascular programs are growing increasingly complex through hospital mergers, specialist employment, and network affiliations. At the same time, pressure to deliver efficient, high-quality care has never been greater. These forces require CV leaders to establish an effective strategy for coordinating services across sites, including appropriately allocating resources, standardizing operations, ensuring a uniform patient experience, and forming meaningful partnerships.

The new integration mandate

Previously, CV programs could function independently with significant success. Yet, siloed operations often resulted in fragmented care and higher costs. With 60% of hospitals now part of systems and the recent uptick in cardiologist integration, it is even more critical for CV leaders to collaborate across sites of care within the organization and optimize affiliations with external partners.

This study provides 21 imperatives to help form an effective CV regionalization and network strategy.

Integrate existing assets

To integrate across sites of care, CV leaders must define concrete goals, then establish governance structures to coordinate between sub-service lines and facilities. Next, CV administrators must standardize operations across sites by coordinating strategic planning and ensuring uniform quality. Finally, leaders must evaluate the distribution of services to meet market demand.

This chapter outlines nine imperatives with case studies from progressive organizations that describe methods to achieve integration across sites of care within the organization.

Maximize the value of CV specialist integration

The increase in cardiologist employment further complicates the number of sites over which care must be coordinated. CV administrators must establish a regionalized strategy that considers both physician practices and the hospital’s sites of care, ensuring that providers are operating in unison.

This special report offers six lessons to optimize the value of newly acquired practices, including strategies to ensure cultural compatibility, implement a formalized onboarding program, and effectively allocate newly acquired assets.

Expand the cardiovascular network through affiliation

CV programs are renewing focus on building rapport with neighboring facilities to establish a regionalized approach to cardiovascular care delivery. Network affiliations can improve efficiencies, provide otherwise unavailable services across the care continuum, or build the infrastructure for evolving delivery systems such as accountable care organizations.

For example, to improve its cardiac surgery program, one profiled hospital developed a comprehensive affiliation strategy with a renowned heart institute. With assistance, the hospital was able to secure a 40% market share for open-heart services in a highly competitive market while also expanding additional high-end CV services to provide a complete continuum of care within its system.

This section provides guidance on forming meaningful partnerships by establishing objectives and thoroughly evaluating potential partners. Once agreements have been reached, leaders must dedicate ongoing resources to manage partnerships and monitor affiliations to ensure they generate the desired outcomes.

By reading this study, members will learn to:

  • Develop a strategy to coordinate the delivery of cardiovascular care across sites within a region or health system
  • Enhance collaboration across locations to improve CV strategic planning, standardize operations, and ensure a uniform patient experience
  • Allocate services among campuses, sites of care
  • Effectively integrate with and acculturate newly affiliated CV specialists to ensure all sites are operating in a cohesive fashion
  • Form lasting, impactful network affiliations

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