Health & Fitness

Baylor announces alliance with Cleveland Clinic

The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano is one of three Baylor Scott & White Health hospitals selected by the Cleveland Clinic’s Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute to exclusively handle Texas and Oklahoma cardiac patient referrals.
The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano is one of three Baylor Scott & White Health hospitals selected by the Cleveland Clinic’s Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute to exclusively handle Texas and Oklahoma cardiac patient referrals. Hand out photo

Baylor Scott & White Health announced a new alliance Thursday with one of the country’s top heart hospitals, a move officials say will advance medical research, help shorten transplant waiting lists and make quality care more accessible and affordable for Texas and Oklahoma cardiovascular patients.

The Cleveland Clinic’s Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute has selected three Baylor hospitals, two in Dallas and one in Plano, as exclusive providers for its Texas and Oklahoma cardiac patients who are seeking surgery or treatment closer to home.

Under the alliance, the top-ranked Ohio hospital will help coordinate care, develop programs and best practices designed to improve patient safety and collaborate on clinical research with Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano and Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital.

“The opportunities we have with this collaboration to share best practices among our clinicians, to look at research and innovation on cardiovascular care, really is going to make it better at the end of the day for the patient,” Baylor Scott & White Health CEO Joel Allison. “That’s why we’re all here.”

The alliance between Cleveland Clinic and Baylor Scott & White Health took about a year to formalize, which included an evaluation of the Baylor hospitals procedures and adoption of recommended improvements. The partnership allows Baylor hospital physicians and surgeons to consult with Cleveland Clinic on individual cases as well as collaborate research efforts on cutting-edge medications and procedures, such as being able to replace heart valves without surgery.

Being associated with a top-ranked heart hospital is expected to bring even bigger boost to the Baylor hospitals’ reputation for providing quality cardiac care and help attract highly sought physicians and surgeons, said Dr. Michael Mack, cardiovascular services medical director.

“As the Cleveland Clinic team spent days with us, in terms of look at us, the finding was we are the best kept secret in the United States. We don’t want to remain a secret,” Dr. Mack said. “This affiliation will allow us to expand our reputation to the next level and develop an international and national presence similar to what the Cleveland Clinic has now.”

Dr. Mack said the Cleveland Clinic’s evaluation allowed the Baylor hospitals to “hold a mirror up to ourselves” and look for ways to improve not only for Dallas-area patients but to become a national destination for cardiac patients seeking care.

“As good as we thought we were doing, Cleveland Clinic still did things a little bit better. Already we have incorporated a lot of the processes that they do,” Dr. Mack said. “We’re better already just from having the alliance. Our patients are going to get better care as a result of this.”

Eventually, Cleveland Clinic said it hopes to form similar partnerships with 20 to 30 hospitals across the country. Creating a larger national network will allow the hospitals to save money on health care expenses, such as implant costs, officials said.

“Health care has been a cottage industry. Every other industry in the United States has come together for efficiency, quality and cost. That is what you see happening right now in health care,” said Joseph Cacchione. “This collaboration gives us the opportunity to begin to use our purchasing power jointly to decrease the cost of health care across our organizations.”

Developing more effective and safer treatment will also result in health care savings for the patients, officials said.

“The basis of this is all about quality. Good quality really does translate to better costs,” Dr. Mack said. “The most expensive thing in health care is complications. If we can provide quality certainty, then we can provide some degree of cost certainty.”

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Baylor hospital officials say they are already seeing a payoff from the partnership. The Cleveland Clinic, which performs about 4,000 open heart surgeries annually, has begun referring patients, including five who needed transplants, to the Baylor hospitals.

Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, which reportedly has the second largest heart transplant program in the country by volume, completed its 98th heart transplant of the year Wednesday night, Dr. Mack said. The alliance could help the Ohio hospital’s patients, who come from across the country, potentially receive donor hearts sooner, he said.

“Cleveland Clinic has a very long waiting list that goes into years of patients waiting,” Dr. Mack said.

The Cleveland Clinic's Cardiovascular Specialty Network also includes alliances with North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in New York and MedStar Heart Institute in Washington, D.C.

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639

Twitter: @susanschrock

Baylor hospital honors

The Baylor Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital, which is the North Texas region’s first hospital dedicated to heart and vascular care, received the state’s highest honor this year for quality and organizational performance.

Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas is ranked the No. 1 Best Hospital in the Dallas metro area by U.S. News & World Report. The hospital’s Ventricular Assist Device Program for heart failure patients was the first in the country to receive The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval.

The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano, the largest cardiovascular specialty hospital in the country, received recognition in 2013 from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons for aortic valve replacement, coronary artery bypass surgery and aortic valve replacement with coronary artery bypass graft procedures.

Source: Baylor Scott & White Health