St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana: Dr. William Storer, Medical Director

by HCE Exchange on August 19, 2010

Indiana’s first free standing specialty heart hospital opened in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2002.  The hospital was a joint venture of physicians of The Care Group, LLC,  one of Indiana’s largest and most respected physician groups, and St. Vincent Health.  “The hope of that venture was to heavily weight decisions on operations, budget, and capital investment toward physician preference.  That’s how we started off; the physicians owned half of The Heart Center  and the other half was owned by St. Vincent Health,” says Dr. William Storer, Medical Director of St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana.

It is an arrangement that has worked well for all parties involved. There are approximately fifty doctors—cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons—who work regularly in the two Heart Center facilities located in Indianapolis. The center has been ranked number one in four different categories for five years in a row by Health Grades. St. Vincent Heart Center is the top choice for heart health care in the 45 counties of central Indiana.

Physician Directed

Decisions about operational procedures, budget management and capital investments for St. Vincent Heart Center are almost entirely made by the physician owners. “Physician involvement and ownership simply improves everything in regards to operation of the hospital. It aligns all of the physicians’ desires and the hospital’s desires,” says Storer. “I think that in the success of a stand-alone, specialty hospital, one item that is extremely important is to engage the physicians intellectually and emotionally and economically.”

“I know there are legislation proposals out there all the time that try to prevent physician ownership of hospitals. The main reason always given is concern that physician ownership would cause overutilization of facilities for the purposes of profit,” Storer says. “In reality, when doctors practice medicine at the bedside, that’s the last thing on their minds. They are involved—one on one—with a patient who has a need and thoughts of profit just aren’t in the doctor/patient relationship.”

The hospital currently maintains a staff of about 500 employees. The group plans ongoing medical education conferences for staff at every level. More than half of the center’s doctors are involved as investigators in research projects. At any given time, there are a number of surgical and interventional research programs going on.

The Pulse on Capital Investments

Dollars are tight, of course, with the current economy, but the center has been focusing the bulk of its investments into information technology systems. “It is our goal to have a paperless system. We are a significant way along that road; we’re 80% there. We are not quite there in order entry or in progress note entry. It is our goal to be completely paperless within the next year,” says Storer.

“We are always looking at expanding our facility in order to incorporate all the new technology available; ” he says. The Heart Center recently added an operating room called the Hybrid Room. Any operating procedures and imaging can be done there. The room allows them to combine procedures between surgeons and cardiac-interventionists. “The challenge is always to stay a step ahead of where technology is today,” says Storer.

“I also know that healthcare reimbursement is going to be declining and it’s a challenge to try to stay a step ahead of where current events are leading things right now,” says Storer. “We would like to continue our research efforts and all the other things we do to benefit patient outcomes. We’re  concerned about where healthcare reform is going to take those issues, and whether some successful programs will need to be discontinued.

Organizational Vital Signs

For today, St. Vincent Heart Center remains at the top of the quality list. “We measure quality in every possible way we can think of measuring it, for all of our procedures and all of our cases,” says Storer. “We maintain a good database. We report all required quality issues, as most hospitals do. In terms of maintaining our quality, we believe that the first part of that effort is to know where you stand. We are constantly developing new techniques to continually measure our quality, and we are dedicated to maintaining the high level of quality that we have already accomplished..”

Quality accomplishments have certainly paid off.  St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana is the only hospital in Indiana to be named Best Heart Care by Health Grades five years in a row. It was the first hospital in the state to be awarded the American Heart Association’s Gold performance award for achievement in dealing with coronary artery disease. Nationwide, the hospital remains in the top 5% in cardiology. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently put St. Vincent Heart Center on a list of only seventeen hospitals who rank “above average” in saving lives from heart attacks. The entire survey included more than 4,800 hospitals. The hospital is also deeply invested  in developing a culture of safety in keeping with Ascension Health’s goal of practicing quality evidenced based medicine which causes no harm.

On Facing an Uncertain Future

As Medical Director, Storer is responsible for all the functions of the medical staff. He oversees health information management and is directly involved with the Vice President of Quality, Safety, and Risk in determining quality, safety and risk measures. He also assists in coding and denial management, and acts as a physician advisor to the larger organization of St. Vincent Health.

“There is a high level of cooperation between the administration and physicians,” says Storer. “This is a good reason for physician ownership. It gives the physician incentive to improve the operations of the hospital for the sake of the patients and everyone else who is concerned… We’re dedicated to continue to do good work, and assume that will pay off for the benefit of the patient in the end.”

-by T.M. Simmons

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Shirlee Roahrig February 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm

This message is for Dr. Storer. I was told by Orville Luther that you may have openings at the heart hospital. I will look further into this but would like to hear from you also.

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