Times are tight, financially, for many community hospitals throughout the country. Across all major services lines, community hospital administrators have to make tough decisions on which services to offer and which services to refer out to regional medical centers.
Within the cardiovascular service line, offering interventional services presents an enticing expansion opportunity; especially given that in-house surgical backup is no longer required to offer cardiac catheterizations. But gaining access to the capital necessary to develop an interventional program can prove difficult for smaller hospitals.
So, given limited capital resources, are interventional cardiovascular procedures where you should place your bet? We helped one member answer this question, and here we outline what we found.
Interventional services offer strategic benefits—at a cost
The short answer: it depends. Expanding into interventional services can have a profound impact on a community hospital’s brand and bottom line. Offering cardiac interventions not only helps retain profitable cardiovascular procedures, but can also keep comorbid patients from other service lines in the hospital’s systems of care. For example, one hospital we worked with saw a bump in orthopedic joint replacements after building its cardiac cath lab because patients no longer had to leave the hospital for their cardiac care.
On the other hand, developing an interventional cardiovascular program is a resource intensive process. Construction and equipment for a cath lab adds over $2 million in fixed costs on average. Plus, recruiting talented interventionalists and support staff can be challenging for many community hospitals—especially those located in rural communities. Meanwhile, more suburban community hospitals have to contend with tough competition for patients who may elect to travel to the nearby academic medical center for their cardiac care.
Two different approaches to interventional service expansion
We recently profiled two small community hospitals that built successful interventional cardiovascular programs. These hospitals, however, utilized very different strategies. While one hospital employed cardiologists and built the cath lab themselves, the other hospital didn’t have to provide any upfront capital.
Want to find out more about how these community hospitals built successful interventional programs? Check out our case profiles.
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