This article was originally published here
Curr Opin Cardiol. 2021 Oct 13. doi: 10.1097/HCO.0000000000000940. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Decentralized, inconsistent healthcare delivery results in variable outcomes and wastes nearly one trillion dollars annually in the United States (US). Congenital heart surgery (CHS) is not immune due to high, variable costs and inconsistent outcomes across hospitals. Many European countries and Canada have addressed these issues by regionalizing CHS. Centralizing resources lowers costs, reduces in-hospital mortality and improves long-term survival. Although the impact on travel distance for patients is limited, the effect on healthcare disparities requires study. This review summarizes current data and integrates these into paths to regionalization through health policy, research, and academic collaboration.
RECENT FINDINGS: There are too many CHS programs in the US with unnecessarily high densities of centers in certain regions. This distribution lowers center and surgeon case volumes, creates redundancy, and increases variation in costs and outcomes. Simultaneously, adhering to suboptimal allocation impedes the understanding of optimal regionalization models to optimize congenital cardiac care delivery.
SUMMARY: CHS regionalization models developed for the US increase surgeon and center volume, decrease healthcare spending, and improve patient outcomes without substantially increasing travel distance. Regionalization in countries with few or no existing CHS programs is yet to be explored, but may be associated with more efficient spending and procedural complexity expansion.