Access is an important differentiating factor for patients and referring physicians when selecting their preferred CV provider. But many CV programs are not well-equipped to satisfy this growing demand for timely, convenient services.
This study offers 15 lessons for assembling an accessible CV network by optimizing market footprint and enhancing outpatient availability.
The challenge of better access
Enhancing access to CV services is no easy task, and current market dynamics make the process even more complicated.
The outpatient shift and recent M&A and partnership activities have left CV programs with a service portfolio out of sync with patient demand. Patients and payers are now prioritizing lower-cost alternatives to the inpatient procedures that have been the backbone of the CV service line, and many programs also are dealing with costly service duplication or misalignment resulting from system-wide network consolidation.
Even with the right service portfolio, most CV programs are also ill-prepared to provide services how and when patients want them. Patients and referring physicians are making convenience and timeliness their main priorities at the point of care, but as downstream specialty providers, CV programs are seldom available at patient points of entry and are prone to appointment delays.
Assembling an accessible CV network
These market dynamics leave CV programs with two imperatives for enhancing their near-term access: optimizing their market footprint and increasing their outpatient service availability.
Optimize the CV market footprint
The first step toward enhancing patient access is realigning service distribution according to demand—but that’s easier said than done. CV leaders struggle to measure the impact of service rationalization, win over stakeholders, and balance service comprehensiveness with sustainability.
Any market optimization strategy also needs to address the optimal deployment of CV specialists. Programs must balance outreach and partnership opportunities in new markets with demand for services in their communities.
As such, the first half of this study offers lessons for ensuring effective CV service and specialist deployment. Strategies include:
- Creating site-specific eligibility criteria for CV service allocation
- Leveraging partnerships to fulfil market needs for cost-prohibitive CV services
- Structuring CV outreach models to ensure mutual benefit and lasting value
- Using telecardiology to efficiently extend CV specialists’ reach
Increase outpatient service availability
Optimizing the CV market footprint is only part of the solution for profitably increasing access. Without an infrastructure to accommodate patients in a timely manner, programs will fail to realize their full market capture potential. Therefore, the second half of this study focuses on increasing the availability and convenience of upstream, outpatient CV services. Strategies include:
- Providing “next-level” CV services like diagnostic imaging at patient points of entry
- Co-locating CV staff and specialists with key referring physicians
- Eliminating physician practice variations that can lead to suboptimal CV clinic capacity
- Hardwiring processes to facilitate better appointment scheduling
Members of the Cardiovascular Roundtable can read the full study to learn 15 best practices for assembling an accessible CV network, including:
- Conducting a CV services site audit
- Identifying, structuring, and sustaining long-term CV specialist outreach partnerships
- Embedding CV nurse navigators into primary care practices
- Creating a CV clinic “report card” to track key access indicators