ORLANDO (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Hospitals in the first quartile of short-term performance in treating heart failure patients had higher long-term survival rates for those patients, based on data from 317 hospitals that participated in a voluntary quality improvement program.

The burden of heart failure remains substantial in the United States, and health policies are increasingly focused on improving care for heart failure patients, said Ambarish Pandey, MD, of the University of Texas, Dallas, in a presentation at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services incentives increasingly favor preventing hospital readmission in heart failure patients, a different performance metric is needed, Dr. Pandey said.

The researchers assessed hospital performance based on 30-day risk-standardized mortality rates (RSMR) in hospitals participating in the Get With the Guidelines–Heart Failure ( GWTG-HF ) registry, using a hierarchical, logistic regression model to calculate hospital-specific 30-day RSMRs.

Get With the Guidelines is a voluntary, observational quality improvement program that has been linked with CMS to capture long-term follow-up data, Dr. Pandey explained.

The study included 106,304 heart failure patients older than 65 years at 317 GWTG hospitals across the United States during 2005-2013. The hospitals were divided into performance quartiles based on 30-day RSMR. The 30-day RSMRs were 8.6%, 9.4%, 9.9%, and 10.7% in the first, second, third, and fourth quartiles, respectively.

There was a strong association between the top-performing hospitals and long-term survival rates for the patients that persisted beyond 30 days, said Dr. Pandey. The mortality rates after 5 years were 75.6%, 76.2%, 76.9%, and 79.6%, in the first, second, third, and fourth quartiles, respectively.

The hospitals in the first quartile were more likely than those in the fourth quartile to have primary percutaneous coronary intervention capabilities (80% vs. 73%), in-house cardiac surgery (66% vs. 57%), and a heart transplant center (13% vs. 2%).

In addition, the hospitals in the highest quartile had higher rates of adherence than those in the lowest quartile to guideline-directed heart failure therapies, including evidence-based beta-blocker use, ACE inhibitor and angiotensin receptor blocker use, postdischarge heart failure follow-up, implantable cardioverter defibrillator placement prior to discharge, and cardiac resynchronization therapy prior to discharge.

The study was limited by a possible lack of generalizability to hospitals not participating in the GWTG program, Dr. Pandey said. In addition, “we cannot establish causation between hospital performance based on 30-day RSMR and long-term survival.”

However, the long-term survival advantage for heart failure patients treated at hospitals with the highest measures of short-term performance suggests that the 30-day RSMR could be used as an incentive for quality care and the improvement of long-term outcomes, he said.

Dr. Pandey had no financial conflicts to disclose. The Get With the Guidelines–Heart Failure program is supported by the American Heart Association, and has been previously funded by Medtronic, GlaxoSmithKline, Ortho-McNeil, and the AHA Pharmaceutical Roundtable. The findings were published simultaneously in JAMA Cardiology (2018 Mar 12. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2018.0579 ).

SOURCE: Pandy A. ACC 2018.