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Northwestern Memorial Hospital only hospital in the United States to provide highest-quality, lowest-cost care to heart attack and heart failure patients

Recent Medicare data demonstrates Northwestern as national leader in value-based healthcare

CHICAGO — It’s the Holy Grail of the health care industry — providing the safest, highest quality care for the lowest price possible.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital is the only hospital in the United States to have achieved exceptional high-quality outcomes at the lowest-possible costs in two of the country’s biggest public health threats, heart failure and myocardial infarction (MI), more commonly known as heart attack, according to recently released data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

According to the most recently reported data, which analyzed Medicare patients’ outcomes across the United States between July 2015 and June 2018:

  • Out of 3,501 U.S. hospitals with heart failure patients, Northwestern is one of only 20 in both CMS’ high quality, low cost sectors. That is a group of less than 1 percent of hospitals (0.57 percent).

  • Of 2,243 hospitals with heart attack data, Northwestern Memorial Hospital is one of the top six in the high quality, lost-cost sectors (0.26 percent of all hospitals).

  • For five consecutive years, Northwestern Memorial Hospital is ranked in the top 10 of U.S. hospitals with the lowest heart failure mortality rate, or the likelihood of surviving heart failure.

  • For seven consecutive years, Northwestern Memorial Hospital is ranked in the top 10 of U.S. hospitals for lowest rate of heart attack mortality. The figures are for 30-day time periods for Medicare patients, the common standard for hospital quality data.

“Cardiovascular disease remains a terrible public health issue, not just for the patients and families who suffer from these diseases but also for the strain it places on healthcare in its entirety,” said R. Kannan Mutharasan, MD, medical director of the Heart Failure Bridge and Transition Team (BAT) at Northwestern Memorial, a specialized team formed to identify heart failure patients early, build relationships with them and intervene to improve their care.

“At Northwestern, we believe health care quality starts with diagnosis. We really drill down on each case and are relentless in finding the underlying root causes and addressing them – not just medical root causes, but also the social and financial barriers our patients face.”

In 2015, Northwestern physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacists and administrators formed the BAT team, taking a hard look at how heart failure and heart attack patients were cared for not only during their hospital stays but after they were discharged.

Heart disease patients, in particular heart failure patients, are dealing with a chronic, irreversible condition that requires lifestyle modifications in addition to advanced medical treatment. Despite many patients’ best intentions to adjust their diets and activity levels, stick to complex medication regimens or attend frequent follow-up appointments, doctors at Northwestern found they needed more support beyond the medical care they received while hospitalized.

For heart attack patients, cardiologists worked closely with emergency medicine physicians to streamline how to provide advanced care in as quick a time frame as possible, adopting new technology and a team approach that provides critical support to patients when every second counts. Once patients are discharged after a heart attack, there is a process to ensure they receive timely follow-up care.

“The CMS data affirms we are providing the best possible care at the lowest possible cost,” said Charles J. Davidson, MD, clinical chief of cardiology at Northwestern. “By working collaboratively across departments and advancing best practices throughout the Northwestern Medicine system, we have been able to provide heart attack patients with unmatched, first class care.”

The CMS measurement is designed to promote value in healthcare, encouraging healthcare providers to seek out ways to provide high quality care while reducing waste, redundancies and unnecessary, ineffective treatment. High quality, in their rubric, is defined by the lowest mortality rate for 30 days following hospitalization. Low cost is the payments made by Medicare for services to treat the patient in the hospital through the next 30 days, not what the patient pays out of pocket.

Heart failure and heart attack patients throughout the Northwestern Medicine 10-hospital system are treated through the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, a collaborative and system wide approach to bring the highest-quality cardiovascular care regardless of location.

“The driving principal of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is providing world-class care closer to our patients,” said Patrick M. McCarthy, MD, executive director of the institute and chief of cardiac surgery. “Our results in heart failure and MI survival rates demonstrate what our teams can do working together, not just on our downtown campuses but throughout the Northwestern Medicine system. Being a system, and being connected to each other really has made a difference for these patients.”

Northwestern Medicine's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is one of the top 10 national programs for cardiology and heart surgery, according to U.S. News and World Report, and ranked the top cardiovascular program in Chicago, Illinois and the surrounding states for more than 10 consecutive years. For more information about Northwestern Medicine’s top ranked cardiovascular care, go to heart.nm.org or call (312) NM-HEART.

For more information about Northwestern Medicine, visit news.nm.org/about-northwestern-medicine.html.