In the summer of 2011, the ACC initiated a research project among 300 hospital leaders, both c-suite executives and CV business administrators, to better understand the challenges hospital CV business lines are facing and opportunities for support.

Value of FACCThe research findings demonstrated that the ACC has a good reputation with hospital executives and administrators. Hospital leaders rate the ACC highly on six key qualities: a trusted resource for cardiovascular information, the best organization in setting quality standards for cardiovascular specialists, a premier professional society, a promoter of the profession, a provider of top quality education and a reliable source for keeping professionals current on the latest clinical developments. While the ACC is highly rated in these areas, there are opportunities for growth. Administrators would welcome partnership opportunities with the ACC around education, best practices, quality improvement and staff recruitment.

When compared with other professional medical societies, the ACC fares well, going head to head with the American Heart Association (AHA). Hospital executives have a consistently positive impression of the ACC, AHA, Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic, while the cardiovascular service line administrators have a sharper focus and are extremely favorable toward both the ACC and AHA above other healthcare organizations.

Likelihood to Hire an FACCCardioSurve research conducted in September 2011 among ACC members found that while cardiologists feel that they have a good relationship with hospital administration, they do not feel that executives place value on the FACC designation. However, this is not the case. In fact, hospital leaders value the FACC designation and say that they are more likely to hire a cardiologist who holds this distinction.

Overall, hospital administrators find value in the FACC designation particularly to support business strategy. Hospitals that have strong affiliations with cardiologists (either as their own internal employees or external relationships with practices) perceive the FACC designation as a unique selling point. Employing FACC cardiologists enables hospitals to market themselves to the general public as being a provider of high-quality care with the credentialing that the FACC designation provides. Hospital executives also feel that having a cadre of qualified FACC cardiologists on staff will attract and retain the best and brightest minds in the profession, particularly those coming out of training and residency. Conversely, hospitals in rural settings that have more difficulty in filling vacant positions view the FACC designation as a luxury, since these hospitals are more imperatively looking for a cardiologist to service their patient populations. Recruitment of cardiovascular staff is one of the biggest challenges to hospital executives. As administrators are faced with the challenge of recruiting cardiologists, the ACC membership provides a rich resource for accessing qualified professionals. Given the high ratings toward ACC and FACC status, it is not surprising to find that there is some interest among hospitals in having an “institutional membership” with the College.

Most hospitals participate in quality initiatives. More than 8 out of 10 (83%) participate specifically in ACC sponsored quality activities with the ICD registry, D2B and CathPCI being the most popular. All ACC initiatives are perceived as strong contributors to quality. Key benefits from participation in quality initiatives include better patient care, quality improvement and comparative benchmarks.

Participating hospitals tend to be large urban or large suburban hospitals. Lack of awareness and lack of application are the main reasons hospitals do not participate in quality initiatives. These institutions tend to be small or medium hospitals predominantly in rural settings.

Integration ActivitySimilar to what we have observed among private practices, hospitals are also active in integration activities. Two out of five hospitals (40%) have either acquired or have considered acquiring a cardiology practice within the past 2 years. Larger hospitals are more likely to acquire CV practices with a desire for a complete integration into the institution. Hospital executives indicate that in the majority of these acquisitions the idea was approached mutually by both parties and that integration was relatively easy. Proper planning and preparation well in advance of the integration were cited as key factors in facilitating the smooth transition.

Overall, the ACC has a strong reputation among hospital executives and administrators. These findings confirm and support ACC’s role in leading the effort toward quality improvement, the value of the FACC designation, and the continual process of translating learning into best practices for the ultimate goal of improving heart health.