Striving to Improve Quality Cardiovascular Care

An article published recently in U.S. News and World Report asked the question, “Are Doctors Exposing Heart Patients to Unnecessary Cardiac Procedures?” The article strongly implies that many doctors who are preforming unnecessary procedures are doing so in order to “reap the benefits in Medicare payments.” The ACC acknowledges that there is a marked variation in percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) rates and there are indeed nationwide opportunities to improve appropriate patient case selection for PCI. This assessment is not the same of the authors’ implications of “reaping the benefits of Medicare payments.” The article explains that one way the College has addressed this issue and guided physicians’ judgment is to publish appropriate use criteria… [as well as through the] ACC’s NCDR  which gathers clinical data on heart disease cases nationwide, [and] has moved to address the issue by encouraging cardiologists to monitor their own practice patterns... Through the CathPCI Registry physician dashboard doctors can compare their own procedural volumes, complications, outcomes and appropriateness against those of their peer clinicians, available as benchmarked averages. Read More >>>

By Ralph G. Brindis, MD, MPH, MACC, senior medical officer of external affairs for the NCDR.