The Heart Team: What Works, What Doesn’t, and What the Future Holds

Part 1. Where Theory Meets Practice: Getting to the Heart of the Heart Team  

Ask anyone for a definition of this ubiquitous term and you won’t hear the same thing twice. 

Image 1. Where Theory Meets Practice: Getting to the Heart of the Heart Team Attend any large cardiology meeting this year, and you’ll lose track of the number of times you hear the term “heart team.” But ask anyone what it actually means in practice, and you won’t hear the same thing twice. 

Is it activated for all cardiology patients or just those with complex structural disease? Does the team involve only cardiologists and surgeons or do these members also invite the opinions of anesthesiologists and palliative care specialists? Is it a Heart Team (note the capitalization) that meets at a scheduled time once a week, or are informal heart team discussions held in the hallways when convenient? What roles do nonphysicians play? Who on the team is responsible for following up with the patient postprocedure? How are all these efforts reimbursed? read more... 

Part 2. We Asked, You Answered: The Heart Team by the Numbers

More than 250 Heart Team members responded to an anonymous survey seeking their opinions on how the concept functions in practice. Their thoughts may surprise you. 

As has been previously reported, the concept of the Heart Team varies widely within the cardiology community. But as all researchers know, the truth is in the data. 

In January, TCTMD polled its readers through targeted emails and social media to find out what they think of the Heart Team and how it works in their hospitals. On top of demographic information, the survey asked questions about the usefulness and value of the Heart Team, who benefits from it most, and what barriers prevent its optimal function. Of note, respondents were also queried about how they include patients in the Heart Team process and about their satisfaction with how their administration supports teamwork. read more...

Updated Infographic


Part 3. From Chaos to Consistency: How One Michigan Hospital Built a Heart Team That Works 

Weekly meetings, better support, a way to compensate participation, and an appetite for change are among the secrets to success at Spectrum Health. 

Photo. From Chaos to Consistency: How One Michigan Hospital Built a Heart Team That Works

On the first Tuesday in March, several people sat facing each other in an eighth-floor conference room in one of Michigan’s highest volume cardiac centers. The sun had barely risen, its first rays inching through the east-facing window as if to help illuminate the discussion that had begun some 20 minutes earlier. 

Of those present—advanced heart failure physicians, interventional cardiologists, noninvasive cardiologists, surgeons, an anesthesiologist, a physician assistant, a coordinator, and a nurse manager—about half were clad in scrubs, having already rounded on patients or prepped the cath lab for the day’s cases. One cardiologist was only there digitally, a disembodied voice crackling out of the speakerphone in the middle of the V-shaped table. read more... 


* This series was produced as part of the Health Care Workforce Media Fellowship run by the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College (New York, NY). The Fellowship is supported by a grant from the Johnson & Johnson Foundation.