The Journal Gazette
Thursday, August 15, 2019 1:00 am

Parkview Heart, Cleveland Clinic partner

Voted top program in nation

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

Parkview Heart Institute is now affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute, becoming the seventh health care provider to receive the distinction, officials announced Wednesday.

The partnership “works on many levels,” said Dr. Roy Robertson, president of the Parkview Heart Institute, who added the affiliation will allow Parkview staff direct access to Cleveland Clinic's patient treatment protocols and operational processes. 

Cleveland Clinic's heart program has received the U.S. News and World Report's No. 1 ranking 25 consecutive years.

Dr. Jeffrey Rich, Cleveland Clinic's chairman of the Heart & Vascular Institute's strategic operations, said the organization's affiliate program has grown slowly.

“Only modestly,” he said, “because we're highly selective in who we choose.”

Rich described affiliation as a two-way street that includes sharing best practices that result in better patient outcomes and safety.

“We strengthen each other in sharing ideas with each other,” he said. “Often, we learn from it as well.”

Dr. Suma Thomas, who works with Rich as vice chairman of strategic operations, said Cleveland Clinic staff began the relationship with Parkview about a year ago as consultants.

During that time, Cleveland Clinic assessed Parkview Heart Institute's quality, efficiency and leadership. Afterward, leaders from both organizations met and agreed on a long-term affiliation, she said.

“Overall, we were just really impressed by the quality,” she said. “This is such a dedicated group.”

But, she added, “all of us have opportunities to improve.”

Doctors, nurses, stenographers ... anyone on the Parkview Heart Institute staff ... can ask to go to Cleveland Clinic to learn how its staff approaches the same job.

“They have access, basically, to anything they want,” Thomas said.

By working with a strong partner, she said, “you're actually going to get a lot farther faster.”

“When you just look internally, you don't learn as much,” she added.

After the formal announcement, Rich offered an inside look at how some physicians react to partnership with the Cleveland Clinic. They often chafe at the idea of other cardiologists coming in and telling them how to treat patients, Rich said.

But physicians change their attitudes as time goes on and they see how the affiliation plays out, offering 24/7 access to second opinions from Cleveland Clinic specialists, he said.

“We're there just to expand on their successes and celebrate their successes,” Thomas added.

Parkview Health Institute is the seventh provider to establish affiliate status, which is given to hospitals for the first six months of their Cleveland Clinic agreement. Alliance status is given to affiliates that continue to demonstrate high-quality care after that initial period.

Four providers have alliance status, including hospitals in Missouri and New Jersey.

Parkview's Robertson is excited that the affiliate relationship offers multiple layers of opportunity, extending beyond patient care into operations.

He's open to improvement in multiple areas, whether that be creating a more efficient patient registration process, gaining a better understanding of what procedures insurance will cover or finding ways for pharmacists to better explain to patients how and why to take medication.

“It's our people and our culture that have gotten us here,” he said. “Two strong entities are going to grow together.” 

The news comes less than two months after Parkview Health announced another partnership with a nationally recognized health care provider.

Parkview Center Institute announced May 22 that it had become a certified member of the MD Anderson Cancer Network. The message to patients was that those with the hardest-to-cure cancers would no longer have to leave northeast Indiana for treatment.

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