Happy New Year: Is Your Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

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 - Chris Kaiser
C.P. Kaiser, Editor

As hospitals and cardiology groups deal with the challenging economy, the group of luminaries in our electrophysiology (EP) roundtable cover story all agreed that an EP program makes good economic sense. This is quite a change from just a few years ago when common wisdom held that EP was a loss leader for hospitals.

The shift comes on the heels of much-improved technology including 3D imaging and fusion software, intracardiac echo, robotic navigation as well as smaller and more durable devices that can be monitored remotely via wireless access. Physicians’ understanding of electrophysiology pathology also has advanced, allowing them to select patients more carefully to enable better outcomes.

All of this good news, however, is slightly shadowed by impending reimbursement changes by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Everyone in medicine in the U.S. is dealing with the government’s cost-cutting measures and EP is no different, but EP physicians are working behind the scenes with CMS and the FDA to keep the specialty economically viable and safe.

Heart failure programs, according to our sources, are not money losers, and the specialty will soon enjoy its own subspecialty certification, giving it ever more gravitas among hospital CEOs. Technology is playing an increasingly pivotal role in heart failure care, including newer generations of ventricular assist pumps that could last 10 times longer than current pumps. Read more about this exciting area in our feature “Heart Failure Care Gets Boost from Technology.”

As cardiologists experience drops in procedure volumes and decreases in reimbursement, many are venturing into the peripheral vascular system. In this issue, Dr. David Allie, a cardiothoracic and endovascular surgeon, discusses emerging technologies for treating peripheral vascular disease in Part One of a two-part series. Look for Part 2 in the March/April issue of Cardiovascular Business.

We’re also taking a closer look at dynamic volume CT, which promises to streamline workflow, as well as compact echo systems, which can nicely complement the primary ultrasound systems for many facilities. On the patient management side, we examine the complexities involved in stenting diabetics with multivessel disease in an article that catches the topic during an important transition that could break open the use of drug-eluting stents in this vulnerable patient population.

It’s sometimes too easy to moan about the adversities we face, while not acknowledging the advantages we have. At Cardiovascular Business, the glass is half full and we aim to share the wealth—all the tips and tactics to saving money and improving operations—with you in 2009 and beyond. So, Happy New Year from all of us and drink heartily from this issue of Cardiovascular Business.