Feature Article

Interventional Cardiology Insights: Bringing Data Analytics to the Cath Lab

With precipitous drops in elective and even emergent procedures during COVID-19 – and new cases of the virus surging in most parts of the country – cath labs and other interventional cardiology areas are facing a challenging time.   

During the height of the pandemic (which continues in the United States) countries reported stunning declines in interventional procedures. Primary angioplasties dropped 40 percent in Spain, with 57 percent fewer diagnostic exams, 48 percent fewer therapeutic coronary procedures, and 81 percent fewer structural heart transcatheter procedures.  Similar drops were reported in the US, Austria, and the UK.1

A late June survey of 100 hospital administrators and clinicians in US hospitals found they were operating at 50 to 60 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels in terms of elective/semi-elective procedures, including interventional cardiology. Those surveyed predicted procedures would only return to about 75 to 85 percent by the end of the year, with elective procedure levels remaining below pre-COVID-19 levels for the next one to three years.  That prediction is probably too optimistic given the pandemic surge that began the week of the survey.  Just half of respondents reported their cath labs had enough procedure-specific supplies such as stents, while 56 percent felt they had adequate clinical staff to meet volume requirements.  

Even labs that have reopened to elective procedures will find it challenging to maintain previous volumes given additional requirements for disinfection, social distancing, and the use of personal protective equipment.  Plus, it may be challenging to convince patients to return to a hospital setting.

The lost revenue of the past several months coupled with the additional costs of running a center in a COVID-19 world, including being able to treat fewer patients has put tremendous stress on cath labs and the people who run them.

“These are financially hard times, so we're going to have to look at all of our processes and see if we are as lean as we can be,” said Dipti Itchhaporia, MD, Vice President of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and program director of disease management at Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart and Vascular Institute in Newport Beach, CA, in a published interview. Efficiency, she stressed, will be key.1

That means every dime counts. Cath labs will need to find efficiencies and cost savings wherever they can if they want to return their department to a healthy financial state. 

One area ripe for improvement in Interventional cardiology is inventory management: catheters, balloons, stents, closure devices, plaque modification devices, inferior vena cava filters, hemodynamic flow alteration devices, and accessories. The list goes on and on. 

The sheer volume of devices used creates other challenges: tracking them, monitoring expiration dates, accounting for lost or borrowed items. Many cath labs try to do this manually, scanning barcode stickers and listing items used after case. That wastes valuable staff time and does nothing to improve efficiency, manage costs, and ensure quality outcomes.

These are the problems GE Healthcare’s Interventional Cardiology Insights (ICI) solution was designed to solve. Built on the Edison insights platform and accessible from anywhere, ICI is designed for the cath lab/cardiovascular service line manager to solve many of the daily challenges of inventory management, thus minimizing waste and reducing costs.

It connects directly to our Centricity™ Cardio Workflow data to provide detailed information on service line volume, case workflow, expiring inventory, low material usage, material and provider cost standardization, adverse events, door-to-intervention time, and data quality. Such quantitative data enhances conversations with clinicians about their utilization, providing benchmark standards. It provides the information you need to understand why five cases last week took 30 minutes longer than average; to track devices that expire because they’re not being used (should they be purchased again?); and, most important, to spot trends so you can implement procedures to improve workflow and maximize utilization. 

When a 303-bed teaching hospital switched from manually managing its cath lab inventory to using Centricity Cardio Workflow, they realized a return-on-investment in just 16 days. They saw a 54 percent increase in total supply revenue compared to the previous year; were able to bring their time to charge from 20 to 45 minutes per case to just one click post case and reduced the time required to maintain inventory, par levels, and stocking by 70 percent. All of which enabled them to increase procedure volume with no additional personnel.

Efficiency, cost savings, and improved outcomes and operating protocols are vital to the health of a cath lab in the new normal. It’s time to use analytics to meet these goals.

To learn about GE Healthcare’s Cardiovascular IT solutionvisit our website.

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  1. Adam S, Zahra SA, Chor CYT, Khare Y, Harky A. COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on service provision: A cardiology prospect. Acta Cardiol. 2020:1-8.
  2. Rodriquez-Leor O, et al. Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on interventional cardiology activity in Spain. Rec Interv Cardiol. 2020;2:82-89,  https://www.recintervcardiol.org/es/?option=com_content&view=article&id=344&catid=26
  3. The Impact of COVID-19 on US Hospitals — Edition 11. June 24, 2020. LEK. https://www.lek.com/insights/impact-covid-19-us-hospitals-edition-11
  4. Meyer R, Madrigal AC. A Devastating New Stage of the Pandemic. June 25, 2020. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/06/second-coronavirus-surge-here/613522/
  5. The Impact of COVID-19 on US Hospitals — Edition 11. June 24, 2020. LEK. https://www.lek.com/insights/impact-covid-19-us-hospitals-edition-11
  6. Maxwell YL. Cardiology After COVID-19: Physicians Predict Lasting Change. tctmd/the heart beat. May 20, 2020.https://www.tctmd.com/news/cardiology-after-covid-19-physicians-predict-lasting-change
  7. COVID-19 Impact on Interventional Cardiology & Peripheral Vascular Devices Market. June 1, 2020. https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/covid-19-impact-on-interventional-cardiology-peripheral-vascular-devices-market-2020-06-01?tesla=y
  8. JB67139XX How GE Healthcare's Centricity™ Cardio Workflow helped improve operational efficiency and the bottom line at Cabell Huntington