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Study Shows Diversity Among PH Centers Accredited by PHA

Study results published in ATS Journal show broad diversity among treatment facilities qualifying for Pulmonary Hypertension Care Center (PHCC) accreditation.  Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) PHCC accreditation is based on meeting key measures of care for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) patients as established by a committee comprising U.S. clinical specialists. These criteria include adherence to expert consensus guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of PAH, scope of PH-related services provided and expertise of sites’ PH care team members. 

The study, conducted by PHA Director of Medical Services Michael Patrick Gray and members of PHA’s Scientific Leadership Council (SLC), was an analysis of the 34 facilities – 30 adult sites and four pediatric centers – that received PHA’s PHCC Center of Comprehensive Care (CCC) designation during the first year of the accreditation program. It found that while all first-year sites adhered to the accreditation standards, they also represented wide-ranging diversity from practice setting to structure to types of resources available. All accredited centers treat patients diagnosed with two forms of PH, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), and chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH). Some differences, as noted in the abstract, were: 

  • Practice Setting – In the adult CCCs, 70 percent of practices were led by pulmonologists, 27 percent by cardiologists, and 3 percent by a pediatric cardiologist. Among pediatric CCCs, 75 percent were headed by pediatric cardiologists and 25 percent by pediatric critical care medicine specialists.
  • Director’s Experience – 90 percent of adult CCC directors had 10 or more years’ experience treating disease.
  • PAH/CTEPH Patients per full-time physician/physician equivalent – Sites demonstrated variability in staffing ratios. To date, there have been no studies showing an “optimal” staffing ratio that leads to better outcomes. However, this analysis reported that, on average, the adult-treating centers staffed one full-time physician/physician equivalent for every 139 patients and pediatric centers staffed one full-time physician/physician equivalent for every 91 patients. 

Also of note, an analysis of patients’ records found that while some centers recorded sleep apnea test results, a component of many PH diagnostic guidelines, this was not as consistent as other tests among accredited centers. 

The study results were presented in an abstract at last year’s American Thoracic Society (ATS) International Conference.  The PHCC accredited centers participating in the PHA Registry will present two abstracts at the 2017 ATS Conference, May 19-24, 2017 in Washington, DC. 

Since launching the accreditation program in September 2014 on the heels of a successful pilot, PHA has designated 41 adult and six pediatric sites as CCCs.  In September 2015, the PHCC program instituted the PHA Registry (PHAR) to measure improvements in the quality of PH patient care. The first 16 CCCs to participate in the PHAR, now available on a voluntary basis to all CCCs, have already enrolled more than 210 patients. PHAR sites collect and enter patient-reported outcomes, including two health-related quality-of-life surveys, as well as data such as patients’ exact diagnosis and hospitalization rates.   

This year, PHA will begin awarding accreditation to qualifying PH Regional Clinical Programs (RCPs). 

Read more about the study here.

RELATED POST: New Pulmonary Hypertension Association Accreditation Program/Registry Giving New Understanding to Specialists Caring for People Living with Rare, Often Misdiagnosed Life-threatening Breathing Disease


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PHANews is produced by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) and offers up-to-date information about pulmonary hypertension and PHA. Subscribe to our e-newsletter to receive a weekly summary of featured content on this website.