The Silicon Review
“SpecialtyCare is uniquely positioned to innovate and advance the practice of medicine within our core competencies.”
For the majority of cardiac operations performed today the surgeon needs to work on a still heart. In order to achieve this quiescence, doctors place patients on the heart-lung machine and substitute the body’s ability to pump and oxygenate blood through cardiopulmonary bypass. The responsibility for the management of this life saving device is a special healthcare professional called a perfusionist.
SpecialtyCare (SC) provides outsourced clinical services for hospitals and healthcare providers across the United States. It offers services in the areas of cardiovascular perfusion, intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM), sterile processing management, autotransfusion, surgical assist, and minimally invasive surgical support. The company also provides education, training and research services in each of these lines.
SpecialtyCare was established in 2006 and is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.
Dr. Sam Weinstein, SpecialtyCare CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.
Q. What were the grounds on which you have expanded your company and its offerings over the years?
SpecialtyCare started out primarily providing perfusion support to operating rooms around the country.
There is a shortage of perfusionists and many hospitals and surgical teams have reached out over the years for support to find this specialized talent, driving our expansion in that service line. We have over 400 perfusionists on our team and there are only about 4,000 perfusionists in the United States. It was a natural fit for us to offer other services to support physicians as we developed successful relationships and new models to support hospitals in their operating room. In some of our specialities our staff are credentialed at more than one facility, offering economic efficiency to our hospital partners.
Q. What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
SpecialtyCare manages the largest database in Allied Health, the SpecialtyCare Operative Procedural Registry (SCOPE). When we first set up SCOPE to collect surgical patient, procedure and equipment records, no one else in the industry was using data on a national level to improve outcomes. We literally had to define the benchmarks used in our profession. We have a full-time medical department that helps hospitals and OR Surgical teams apply analytics to their own data to improve medical and economic performance. Our company is focused on finding the point where we help our partners optimize medical outcomes but minimize costs, and our innovative data and statistical team help us bring the knowledge from around the country to each of our hospitals and over 400,000 patients a year that we touch.
Q. What do you feel are the reasons behind your consistent growth as an organization?
The leadership in our company is as devoted to improving patient care as any executive team you would see at a major academic medical center. Our medical department is filled with thought leaders in each of our disciplines and last year alone published 16 papers in peer reviewed journals. We spoke at over 2 dozen medical society meetings, and that kind of impact captures the attention of surgeons.
Q. If you have to list five factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be and why?
People, we have dedicated people that have come together to develop and manage our support for the highest acuity procedures performed today (heart surgery, brain surgery, spine surgery, general surgery)all in an attempt to make surgery safer.
Data, since we started collecting data we moved from a third-party outsourcing company to a true innovative partner of hospitals and surgical teams.
Training, our Sim OR (simulated OR) trains our staff everyday in procedures we support. This commitment gives our team members an advantage in their annual training requirements and allows team members to cross-train in other specialities if they desire.
Customer Service, as a surgeon, I understand intimately what our physician partners are looking for to support their patients, as well as their practice.
Associate Engagement, it is our clinicians who are doing the real work, and it is this group that we have become laser focused on elevating.
Q. Tell us about your Perfusion Scholarship Program?
SpecialtyCare’s perfusion education scholarship program is designed to support and assist cardiovascular perfusion students who demonstrate the ability to be leaders in the specialty. The selection committee was delighted by the strong response and overwhelming quality of this year’s candidate pool. With this in mind, I am pleased to announce that the recipients of the 2018 Brown-Brukardt Perfusion Education Scholarships are Jacki Brolhorst and Robert DeGiosio. We are confident that they will make significant contributions to patients’ lives and the practice of cardiovascular perfusion for years to come.
Q. Tell us about SC’s support of the perfusion school at Thomas Jefferson University?
SpecialtyCare supports Thomas Jefferson University’s Institute of Emerging Health Professions Center for Perfusion and Extracorporeal Technology Education. We not only provide all of the clinical education, but we supported the university by donating the latest technology, equipment, and software to the Dr. Robert and Dorothy Rector Clinical Skills and Simulation Center to ensure that students seeking perfusionist education benefit from the most advanced tools and resources available.
Q. How does your company contribute to the global IT platform at large?
SpecialtyCare is uniquely positioned to innovate and advance the practice of medicine within our core competencies. Because our clinicians partner with surgical teams in hundreds of thousands of cases and a wide range of clinical settings across the U.S. each year, we are able to gather data on techniques that typically are not seen in large numbers at single institutions, or even systems. The result is a collection of rich, expansive data in SCOPE, the SpecialtyCare Operative Procedural Registry™, that allows evidence-based trends and best practices to be shared with surgeons and OR teams across our national network, no matter their size. This helps drives improvement and innovation at the local level.
Q. Do you have any new products ready to be rolled out into the market?
We partnered with Syus this year to deliver utilization data to hospital systems around surgical volumes, surgeon satisfaction, idle time, scheduling, start time and delays. This information is complementary to the surgical procedure data we collect, and gives the hospital/surgical team a platform to drive medially and economically responsible innovation.
Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?
Currently, we are helping 1,100 hospitals and we will continue to grow our service offerings. We will continue to focus on making surgical procedures safer for patients. Whether that is in our current lines or a new service, we will be uniform about improving patient outcomes in a way that decreases complications, and the costs associated with those complications.
Dr. Sam Weinstein:
A Brief Background
Dr. Sam Weinstein, MD, MBA, is the Chief Executive Officer of SpecialtyCare. He was promoted to CEO one year ago from the role of President of Operations and Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Weinstein leads SpecialtyCare’s commitment to advance patient outcomes in a way that controls costs for customers. He provides direction and oversight of the company’s clinical performance, quality initiatives, research activities, operational processes, supply chain, and business partnerships.
Dr. Weinstein graduated with a BA in History from the University of Pennsylvania and received an MBA from Fordham University. He earned his MD degree at The State University of New York at Stony Brook and received postdoctoral training in surgery and cardiac surgery at The Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. He obtained additional training in pediatric cardiac surgery at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Weinstein is the author of more than 100 publications and presentations.