August 22, 2008

Quality measures highlighted at VHVI meet

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John Byrne, M.D., speaks at last week’s Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute town hall meeting. (photo by Neil Brake)

Quality measures highlighted at VHVI meet

Quality improvement was the focus of Vanderbilt Heart & Vascular Institute's quarterly Town Hall last week.

Jeff Samz, chief executive officer, discussed six sigma training that VHVI managers are undertaking. Six sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects in any process — from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service. VHVI managers are currently working on the following six sigma initiatives:

• Improve cycle time and utilization in clinic

• Reduce discharge time in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit

• Improve medication reconciliation in off-site clinics

• Reduce vascular complication rate

• Reduce door-to-balloon time for STEMI patients

• Consistent reporting of accurate patient weight gain or loss while on step-down unit

• Streamline patient throughput in echo lab

• Ensure proper antibiotic administration in electrophysiology lab

“We hope six sigma training provides our managers another set of tools to continue improving all aspects of our performance,” Samz said.

One of the most critical projects is reducing the door-to-balloon time, the amount of time it takes to open a blocked artery in a heart attack patient. The clock starts ticking even before the patient arrives at the hospital. Door-to-balloon time is a critical quality measurement, and Vanderbilt has set a goal of 90 minutes for patients who live within 60 miles of the hospital. To help reduce door-to-balloon time, Vanderbilt established the STEMI Network one year ago.

“We applaud the STEMI team for the tremendous work they have done over the last year,” said Keith Churchwell, M.D., executive medical director of VHVI.

Robin Steaban, VHVI administrative director, discussed core measure performance, quality measures set forth by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Joint Commission. For acute myocardial infarction, VHVI is performing above the expected target.

Churchwell introduced nine physicians who recently joined VHVI. They are:


• John Selby, M.D., professor of Clinical Anesthesiology and surgical director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit.

• Jane Brock, D.O., associate professor of Clinical Anesthesiology

Vascular Surgery

• Colleen Brophy, M.D., professor of Surgery at the Nashville Veterans Affairs Medical Center.


• Patrick Whalen, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine

• Robert Abraham, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine

General Cardiology

• Michael Baker, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine

• Jeff Dendy, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine

• Ken Monahan, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine

Interventional Cardiology

• Jay Bagai, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine at the Nashville Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Doug Sawyer, M.D., Ph.D., interim chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, provided an update of the Cardiac Cell Therapy Research Network.

Vanderbilt has enrolled four heart attack patients into the NIH-sponsored study to see if stem cells can help repair damaged cardiac cells.

Sawyer encouraged VHVI employees to participate in this year's American Heart Association Heart Walk on Sept. 27 since the funds raised through the walk directly support the research work of junior investigators.

“The AHA is willing to fund the innovative projects of young investigators. The Heart Walk gives back to us in a good way,” he said.