Columbia HeartSource Program
"After all we are merely the servants of the public, in spite of our M.D.'s and our hospital appointments."
— Sir Henry Howarth Bashford
It was 1997 when two Columbia surgeons were asked for some extraordinary health advice. In this instance it was not a patient request, but a hospital. This hospital had witnessed Columbia University's rise to the forefront of cardiac care and wanted to provide their patients with the same expertise and quality of care. As doctors, Dr. Allan Schwartz and Dr. Craig R. Smith felt obligated to help the other physicians in need.
Within a short amount of time, Dr. Schwartz and Dr. Smith consulted with this hospital to improve their cardiac-related business functions, operating procedures, and staff knowledge. It was not long before other health centers started calling for help and the doctors realized that there was a need for the services they were providing. Thus, the HeartSource program was born.
To learn more about this organization we recently spoke with HeartSource's Chief Operating Officer, Judy Tingley RN, MPH. What follows is a transcript of this session.
When was HeartSource founded?
HeartSource officially began its services in 1997 and has developed under the leadership and guidance of Drs. Schwartz and Smith. Since the beginning, these doctors recognized that community hospitals needed greater access to resources, better technology, and insight from leading experts in the field.
As a result of the close relationships between doctors and administrators, and our continuing commitment to education, HeartSource brings a unique perspective to cardiac care. We translate this perspective to affiliate hospitals, and the first step in the process is an initial assessment.
What is involved in an initial assessment? What services does HeartSource provide for its affiliate hospitals?
During an initial assessment, the HeartSource team spends one or more days with the hospital staff, including doctors, nurses, and administrators. Based on the initial program scan, they offer affiliate hospitals a variety of services, including:
- Educational Services — Through online and classroom-based training HeartSource educates affiliates in new technologies and data analysis, and teaches hospitals to use the best tools and procedures to treat their cardiac care patients. Every fall affiliates from around the nation meet for an annual networking event where doctors can exchange ideas and learn about the newest innovations in heart care.
- Quality Improvement — Every HeartSource affiliate has access to 24/7 assistance from Columbia physicians and staff, and each quarter the HeartSource team travels to affiliate sites and assesses progress with physicians face to face.
- Program Development — Recently, HeartSource began work with a hospital in Abu Dhabi and helped get their cardiac program off the ground. This is the first international affiliation for HeartSource, and it has proven to be a success. The hospital has performed 30 cardiac surgeries this year alone, and their team is constantly working with Columbia to improve both the scope and quality of their care.
What sets HeartSource apart from other programs?
Several other medical institutions offer similar services to HeartSource. However, the team at Columbia truly believes that what sets HeartSource apart is the leadership and dedication.
Dr. Schwartz and Dr. Smith are personally involved in the program, and always emphasize building relationships and developing individualized solutions. When HeartSource partnered with Sarasota Memorial Hospital, they successfully recruited an outstanding Chief of Cardiac Surgery with the goal of bringing the same state-of-the-art clinical technology available here in New York to Southwestern Florida.
How does Columbia benefit from providing these services to others?
The Columbia HeartSource team knows that these affiliations are a two way street. As much as HeartSource offers its help to hospitals, it constantly gains insight and knowledge from affiliates. For instance, it sees how the community hospitals prepare patients sent to specialized centers like New York-Presbyterian/Columbia. HeartSource can provide suggestions on preparatory care that results in a better experience for patients once they reach the specialized centers. It is this type of reciprocal relationship that is a strength of Columbia HeartSource. The patients, healthcare delivery system, technologies and community hospital needs will determine the focus, services, and evolution of Columbia HeartSource going forward.