Blog Post

Three Steps to Cardiovascular Service Line Sustainability


What happened to the increased care coordination, service line growth, and improved outcomes your organization expected by pursuing hospital/cardiologist alignment? The truth is these benefits have proved to be elusive, and many health systems are instead facing challenges related to financial sustainability and performance. For systems that find themselves in this position, here are three steps that can help enhance the productivity, operational performance, and long-term financial viability of a cardiology service line.

Step 1: Ensure Efficient Operations

Most newly employed cardiology groups quickly realize that they cannot and should not operate in the same manner as they did in their pre-integration days. In evolving into an integrated cardiology practice, service line operations and performance should be closely monitored by a skilled practice manager to ensure that major opportunities and/or issues are quickly addressed. Each organization is unique, but some common challenges include:

  • Scheduling patient visits to maximize provider time
  • Properly staffing the clinic and hospital
  • Maximizing revenue cycle operations
  • Monitoring performance and routinely sharing results with physicians

Step 2: Create the Optimal Care Model

Cardiac programs are also beginning to leverage CV-specific care team models, typically consisting of two physicians and an advanced care practitioner (ACP). This team model can promote more efficient follow-up scheduling and a greater sense of continuity. Once fully operational, the team of three providers can expect to increase its patient panel size.

Step 3: Align Incentives With Cardiology Service Priorities

An organization’s compensation plan design greatly influences financial sustainability. Though many cardiology groups incorporate a productivity-based component into their compensation plans, the base is often set too high and physicians rarely hit the incentive. Additionally, the negotiated terms frequently incorporate a high payment rate that is not sustainable, given current practice economics and reimbursement trends. Consequently, more hospitals and physicians are opting for a group compensation methodology, where physicians are paid – at least in part – for their collective productivity and overall performance. Under this model, each physician is compensated commensurately for his/her work by allocating a large amount of compensation to a group production pool.

As reimbursement and incentive structures continue to evolve, it is becoming ever more important to monitor cost-saving measures and identify potential efficiencies. Following these three steps will help your CV service line mitigate downward reimbursement trends as well as achieve performance improvement goals.

To learn more about cardiovascular service line sustainability, read the full article.