As MEDNAX gears up for a year-long celebration of 40 years in health care, our pediatric cardiology division is making a mark of its own.
Since partnering with our first pediatric cardiology practice in 1991, we have treated patients with congenital heart disease (CHD). Advancements in medicine are drastically improving outcomes and helping children with CHD reach — and thrive — into adulthood. As we celebrate Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, our affiliated pediatric cardiologists continue to forge new ground in medicine while collaborating with cardiologists nationwide through the Adult Congenital & Pediatric Cardiology Quality Network (ACPC QNet).
ACPC QNet, launched in 2015 by the American College of Cardiology, is a national network of congenital heart disease providers who collect and share quality outcome data, collaborate and develop best practices for CHD patients. Evidenced-based medicine and best practices depend on vast amounts of data and quality metrics gathered over long periods of time. Due to the rarity of the condition, this has proved difficult for congenital heart disease, but ACPC QNet is working to improve outcomes for CHD patients.
MEDNAX-affiliated pediatric cardiologists comprise one of the nation’s largest practices dedicated to pediatric cardiology with 109 cardiologists in 10 states. Data from our practices pooled with data from other ACPC QNet contributors will provide insights needed to help CHD treatment evolve. Of the 49 sites participating in ACPC QNet, 11 are MEDNAX-affiliated pediatric cardiology practices.
Partnering for progress
Quality improvement is not a new area for MEDNAX. In 2016, the MEDNAX Cardiology Quality Collaborative (MCQC) was established to support quality improvement at each affiliated cardiology practice. With common goals focused on CHD quality metrics and improvement, a partnership between the MCQC and ACPC QNet made sense. Matthew V. Park, MD (North West Congenital Heart Care, Tacoma) and Kenneth M. Shaffer, MD (Children's Cardiology Associates of Austin) serve as co-directors of MEDNAX Cardiology Quality and Safety and have spearheaded the collaboration with ACPC QNet.
“We saw this as the perfect opportunity for MEDNAX to get involved with helping establish CHD best practices. Before ACPC QNet, CHD studies were often completed individually by large institutions, such as academic hospitals. Treatment and quality recommendations came through independent papers instead of a large national data set, making a single standard of care difficult to establish — especially backed by significant quality data,” said Dr. Park.
Meeting and exceeding goals
ACPC QNet currently gives contributing practices the ability to collect data related to 27 quality metrics, with more on the way. Data is submitted through a secure, web-based survey form, and does not include any patient-specific identifiers or protected health information.
“In just two years, we have already achieved our goal of 50 percent enrollment by our MEDNAX-affiliated pediatric cardiology practices and surpassed our goal of each practice reporting at least 5 metrics,” said Dr. Park. In fact, our practices currently report on more than 8 of the 27 metrics.
Dr. Park credits the technology support MEDNAX provides and the flexibility of our EHR system. MEDNAX has customized NextGen, an electronic health record, to include appropriate prompts that facilitate an easier reporting process. Now, when a participating MEDNAX cardiology practice inputs information into a patient’s record, the prompts help the provider identify which information can also be tracked in ACPC QNet.
“It significantly reduces the time commitment for a practice participating in this initiative,” said Dr. Park.
The future of ACPC QNet
At the start of 2019, ACPC QNet was recognized by the National Cardiovascular Data Registry (NCDR), the ACC’s suite of cardiovascular data registries helping hospitals and private practices measure and improve the quality of care they provide.
For Drs. Park and Shaffer, this milestone is not only a promising advancement in the data metric initiative, it’s also an opportunity to help lead the process. “ACPC QNet will have to evolve and we are still determining to what extent, but it’s definitely an important step for pediatric cardiology and congenital heart disease care. Dr. Shaffer and I are excited to be part of the steering committee for this process,” said Dr. Park. The ACC Quality Summit in March will include discussions on ACPC QNet, where Dr. Park will present as faculty.
“Quality metrics are at the heart of health care; they matter not only to the way we provide care but also to the way we do business,” said Dr. Park. MEDNAX-affiliated pediatric cardiology practices will be well equipped to demonstrate quality and value to payers and hospital partners through their participation in the ACPC QNet initiative.
“MEDNAX has provided tremendous support for our partnership with ACPC QNet,” said Dr. Park. “The support from company leaders strengthens each individual practice while we endeavor to differentiate ourselves on the forefront of change in our field.”