How Cardiology Specialties Can Increase Efficiency to Keep Up with Patient Influx
From diagnostic cardiology to interventional and surgical cardiology, doctors keep busy trying to accommodate the many patients they see and operate on daily. With risk factors on the rise, such as diabetes and obesity, cardiology specialties are busier than ever — putting all the more focus on efficiency as the key factor to managing patient influx.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide several eye-opening statistics about heart disease in the United States, identifying it as the leading cause of death, regardless of gender.¹ In fact, every 34 seconds an individual in the US now dies of cardiovascular disease.¹
Heart disease is expected to continue its exponential rise as risk factors continue to increase. Triggered mainly by unfavorable lifestyle and diet choices, medical conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol are precursors to cardiac disease.
Chronic hypertension, for example, can lead to many cardiovascular disorders, including atherosclerotic or valvular disease, arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation, and heart failure.²
Needless to say, cardiology specialties are gaining traction with qualified personnel required to address this growing healthcare need. But with tight schedules and cardiologists working long hours in the hospital or performing surgery, efficiency is of the essence.
There’s no doubt that ongoing evaluations of workflow and procedures are essential, in order to tackle the ever-rising number of patients, while simultaneously improving the patient care experience.
With innovation driving healthcare forward, many tools are becoming available for doctors — particularly pertaining to cardiology specialties. These tools hold the promise to simplify a number of tasks and facilitate workflow efficiency in hospitals.
To better grasp the current situation of cardiologists working in hospitals and outpatient centers, let’s take a look at what their everyday workdays look like, what hurdles they encounter, and what changes can, in fact, contribute to workflow efficiency.
Cardiology Specialties: The Challenges Doctors Face
Cardiologists clock in early in the morning and present for long hospital shifts and endless patient encounters. They’re required to remain focused and deliver quality care, all day, every day — despite long hours and physically demanding work. While rewarding on the one hand, the job can be both physically and mentally exhausting.
Cardiology, like other specialties, is seeing advancements in the way patients are cared for. With research providing novel solutions and approaches, changes are emerging in the treatment of patients with cardiovascular and coronary artery disease.
While these advancements are great achievements for medicine and patients, they require the physician to “keep up” with these advances — adding to the long list of things requiring the physician’s time.
Here are just a few of the most prominent everyday hurdles that cardiologists and most physicians face:
(1) Long Work Hours
Working in one of the many cardiology specialties means working long hours, as well as working weekends and holidays, and being on-call and expected to leave your family dinner anytime that pager goes off. Needless to say, many professionals working in hospitals say they have no work-life balance.
(2) Increased Risk of Burnout
With shift work taking a toll on the physical well-being of doctors, in addition to the stressful nature of the job, doctors in all cardiology specialties are at high risk for burnout.
As mentally and physically draining demands continue to rise, the need to provide physicians with tools and solutions that simplify processes becomes more pressing.
(3) Demanding Job that Requires Focus at All Times
Cardiologists are expected to remain highly focused and provide excellent patient care at all times. But keeping your mind sharp for a 24-hour stretch comes with challenges.
Information and data have become both a help and a curse. It’s critical that physicians have as much information and data as possible about each patient for optimal patient care.
But when this information is unstructured, difficult to find and sometimes for the sickest of patients, comes in HUGE quantities, physicians can potentially misdiagnose or not optimally treat a patient.
Nonetheless, it’s crucial to keep patient data straight, to understand each patient’s clinical history perfectly, and make the best-possible treatment suggestions.
(4) High-Stress Work Environment
The cardiology floor is no place for the faint of heart. From knowing the details of every patient’s medical history and their disease risk factors to deciding on the next steps for their treatment or surgery to treating a long list of patients every day, doctors working in any of the cardiology specialties are always on their toes.
The cardiology floor becomes even more high-stress with an increasingly worsening nursing shortage, the lack of a work-life balance, and the many time-consuming administrative tasks on clinicians’ plates.
So, how can you make things easier, alleviate the burden on cardiologists, and help solve their most pressing problems?
Providing innovative solutions and novel tools for doctors and their staff is the first step in the right direction. Here’s what that means.
When Efficiency is Key, Complete Clinical Data is a Must
As specialty providers, a cardiologist heavily relies on outside clinical data to ensure the availability of a comprehensive medical history for each patient. Interventional cardiology, as well as other cardiology specialties, will acquire medical records from an array of providers the patient is seeing.
Communication is imperative in a specialty that needs a patient’s detailed medical history. But communication can be time-consuming and costly. That’s why specialized tools designed for doctors can support a smoother workflow and help save time.
The Role of the Primary Care
Requesting medical data from a patient’s primary care provider is the first step in evaluating the patient. Every piece of information is valuable and is merged together to solve the puzzle around the patient’s background.
The patient’s condition might not be completely new. Relevant symptoms may have occurred in the past. It’s therefore likely that abnormalities were documented by the patient’s PCP — giving crucial insight into past diagnoses and treatments that have been administered.
Reports alone, however, don’t necessarily provide enough details for physicians and are frequently accompanied by images, such as an echocardiogram (ECG). For example, as some arrhythmias don’t consistently occur, it’s imperative to have an ECG that shows the medical event while it’s happening. This allows clinicians to make decisions based on current and historical facts about the next treatment steps.
Alleviate Risk Factors by Communicating with Other Specialties
Heart disease has many precursors and rarely comes “out of the blue.” A long list of risk factors and lifestyle choices amass over time and adversely affect the patient’s health.
The need for communication and adequate data exchange between the different cardiology specialties and various other specialties is the foundation of tackling these risk factors — in order to prevent and not just treat heart conditions.
This means addressing the impact of the patient’s diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol levels prior to a cardiac event. In light of today’s diabetes and obesity epidemic, this marks a particularly important step in providing quality patient care and reducing healthcare costs for states.
But clear and effective communication, as well as the seamless exchange of clinical data across specialties, also allows cardiologists to be more efficient, save time, and be better equipped for seeing patients.
The Urgency of a Successful Clinical Data Exchange
The efficient and comprehensive exchange of clinical information between a patient’s PCP and all treating specialty physicians is critical in giving the treating physician an understanding of the patient’s history and risk factors. But timeliness can be a life-or-death factor with cardiology specialties.
Many times, illnesses and events associated with the heart are sudden and unexpected – seconds matter. The heart is a vital organ. It’s critical to have clinical information quickly to be able to make informed medical diagnoses and decisions while administering treatment or scheduling life-saving heart procedures in a timely fashion.
When time is of the essence, efficiency is imperative.
A Tool Made for Doctors: Getting the Job Done, Effectively
With today’s diabetes and obesity epidemics, heart disease will remain a profound concern for the healthcare industry. Rising rates of disease risk factors mean high rates of patients with heart disease.
Given the current outlook, cardiology specialties will stay busy tackling the massive number of patients requiring treatment and medical attention as a result of a cardiac event, cardiovascular, or coronary artery disease.
This is why cardiologists need simple yet effective tools that can assist them in providing optimal treatment quickly, while simultaneously reducing their time completing paperwork and other administrative tasks.
Vivlio Health is a novel cloud-based solution that helps cardiologists request and manage medical records with ease. When you need to find, search, filter, or extract specific images or clinical data, we’ve got you covered — helping you save time and money, while delivering high-quality patient care.
Eliminate workflow inefficiencies and opt for a faster and more reliable process instead. Reach out and book a demo and we’ll get you started.
Heart Disease Facts | cdc.gov. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 October 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm. Accessed 6 April 2023
Tackling G, Borhade MB. Hypertensive Heart Disease. [Updated 2022 Jun 27]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539800/