The medical profession continues to be in the middle of unprecedented social, political and economic change that dramatically affects how cardiovascular specialists provide care. While most cardiologists around the country still classify themselves in a private practice setting, about one-third of these practices are now operating within a hospital setting or are very closely tied to one.

Degree and Direction of Change in PracticeThese practice changes require not only cardiovascular care providers to rethink processes, but the American College of Cardiology (ACC) as well. To better understand these transformations, a November 2011 CardioSurve survey looked to identify the current sentiment of ACC members, as well as ACC leaders, about the state of their practices; the importance and relevance of key issues related to practice management; and how the ACC can best provide support in this time of change.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself." — George Bernard Shaw

Not surprisingly, the survey data show ACC leaders – in this case the College’s Board of Governors (BOG) – are experiencing many of the same challenges as ACC members. Both groups believe the business of practicing cardiology has been negatively affected in the past year. There is also a general consensus regarding a lack of confidence among cardiovascular professionals in how to navigate these changes.

In terms of the ACC’s role in helping members successfully navigate the constantly changing landscape, both groups believe the ACC is providing solid support to practices. The majority of members (71%) and BOG leaders (79%) say ACC leadership is in touch with the real issues that cardiologists face, and nearly 3 out of 4 members (73%) believe that ACC leadership communicates well to the membership.

Desired Practice Support ToolsBOG leaders and members do diverge when it comes to identifying the most important elements to success. While both groups rate “quality improvement (QI)” highest in importance, members migrate to practice support tools that they believe will provide the payment innovation needed to be financially viable, such as coding and billing and health information technology. Meanwhile, BOG members identify specific ACC programs and tools like the National Cardiovascular Data Registry (NCDR®), the CV Care Summit, PINNACLE Registry, and FOCUS imaging tool as most useful.

Participation in ACC QI activities is typically higher among leadership with NCDR participation the highest at 86% for the BOG and 46% for members. Furthermore, slightly more than 1 out of 3 members (36%) are not participating in any registry.

Lack of funding and staff time are commonly cited reasons for inability to participate in a registry.

Overall, members and the BOG believe the ACC’s quality improvement offerings specifically designed to assist practices can be enhanced by:

  • Placing an emphasis on the bottom-line benefits to a practice
  • Providing informational sessions that can be delivered in-person or through lower cost alternatives such as webinars which might provide more traction and diversity in the information delivery portfolio
  • Linking QI with CME or MOC credit since members are placing a stronger emphasis on products that reduce their recertification burden
  • Making the offerings more relevant to practices by focusing on regional or state level issues as well as those unique to CV specialty areas.

In the end, both BOG leaders and members view the ACC as a beneficial source committed to helping them manage the ever-changing practice landscape. For more information on ACC’s QI programs, please visit ACC.org/QualityPrograms.