The Future of Cardiology Private Practice and the Need for Change

How PE-Backed Platforms Are Transforming Cardiovascular Care

Nearly half of all US counties don’t have a cardiology practice—even though heart disease remains the leading cause of death in America and an aging population makes cardiology one of the highest-demand specialties.

Why is cardiology private practice on the decline? And how can best-in-class cardiologists continue to deliver the highest quality care, through a model that is operationally and financially feasible? In reality, the future looks bright for cardiologists who seek to maintain the best elements of private practice and are open to a new operating model.

New Challenges, Evolving Opportunities

Over the last 15 years, the environment in which cardiologists deliver care has shifted multiple times, in various ways.

In the wake of the 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act, as reimbursement for cardiology diagnostic imaging services dropped, many physicians joined hospital systems out of financial necessity. Increased regulatory scrutiny and rising overhead costs also fueled the move to hospital ownership for cardiologists trying to weather the storm.

Fast forward to 2022, and seismic shifts in healthcare began to swing the pendulum once again. As many orthopedic procedures made the successful move to ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs)—driven by higher Medicare reimbursements for outpatient surgeries—some cardiovascular procedures shifted to ASCs, too. The trend started with stenting and has progressed to include diagnostic catheterizations, percutaneous coronary interventions, and other procedures. While escalating costs proved a strong incentive for payers to offer higher reimbursement rates for outpatient procedures, advances in technology made more cardiac surgeries and diagnostics feasible outside the hospital, with equivocal outcomes.

Yet reimbursement increases alone won’t solve the challenges of running a cardiology private practice. With labor representing the lion’s share of a practice’s costs, rising wages have hit the industry hard. Meanwhile, equipment and supplies are more expensive than ever, and fast-changing technology is difficult and costly to keep up with. All the while, the value-based care trend increases the pressure to optimize health outcomes.

In this volatile environment, cardiology practices are struggling to deliver the quality care their patients deserve while making the economics of private practice work. The opportunity is ripe for cardiologists who recognize it’s time for a change.

The Future of Private Practice is Here

Cardiology private practice is starting to thrive once again, enabled by integrated platforms that allow physicians to retain control of healthcare delivery while gaining operational and financial improvements. With the backing of financial sponsors that understand the complexities of cardiovascular care, these physician-owned and physician-led platforms enable cardiologists to do what they do best: staying true to their mission, while operating more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Today’s cardiology platforms bring together top-tier, like-minded specialists who are innovating to push the boundaries of cardiovascular care and improve both access and outcomes. These providers recognize there is strength in numbers—allowing them to deliver higher quality care, in the most appropriate settings, using the latest technology, while leveraging best practices and efficiencies that improve the patient experience.

A private equity-backed model might create a misperception that the platform is primarily focused on financial goals, but that’s not the case. A physician-led cardiology platform strives first to create quality pathways and enhance services for the benefit of patients—the byproduct of which is a positive financial return and greater sustainability.

A physician-owned and -led cardiology platform offers these key advantages for premier cardiologists:

  • Better practice management. A national platform helps cardiologists apply effective approaches to operations, technology, revenue cycle management, and other critical aspects of practice management, reducing administrative and regulatory burdens. These platforms combine high-performing clinicians with leaders who’ve excelled at running a cardiology practice that is both operationally sound and equipped to deliver the highest quality care.
  • A best practices approach. Bringing together like-minded cardiologists enables every practice in the platform to learn from each other’s successes and apply innovative ideas faster. For example, when a practice in New York improved access by adding a same-day cardiology care center, others in the platform were able to leverage this model and bring it to their markets efficiently. Integrated platforms also employ physician advisory councils focused on a particular disease state or service area, allowing cardiologists to build on each other’s knowledge and expertise to transform care delivery.
  • Improved services. An integrated platform can help practices overcome resource constraints and provide patients with the most advanced services. For example, leveraging resources to add PET CT capabilities can yield higher-quality imaging, eliminate unnecessary diagnostic CTs, and reduce the interference of physician interpretation, while adding a new revenue stream. A similar approach can help practices implement new vein programs and mobile cardiac telemetry.
  • Economies of scale. An integrated cardiology platform allows practices to enroll in a group purchasing organization and obtain better pricing on equipment and medical supplies, reducing costs. At the same time, the financial sponsor is able to invest in technology, expertise, and other resources that can be shared across the platform. This approach better equips physicians to deliver value-based care—and share in the savings it can yield—amidst the converging trends of reimbursement pressures and rising expenses.

The future of cardiology private practice remains bright, especially as it evolves to a new model. By joining an equity-backed platform committed to transforming cardiovascular care, specialists can deliver the highest quality care while ensuring they can scale and thrive in a dynamic environment. The right platform becomes a long-term strategic partner—enabling top-tier physicians to accelerate cardiovascular care improvements, lead the way in value-based medicine, and make quality care accessible and affordable for all patients.

Discover the Cardiovascular Logistics Difference

For premier cardiovascular practices that are ready to transform how care is delivered, Cardiovascular Logistics is the platform of choice. Through our deep experience in cardiovascular medicine and practice development, comprehensive resources, and physician-first approach, we empower the nation’s leading practices to grow more effectively as they advance and shape the future of cardiovascular medicine.

Contact us and learn how we can help advance your practice while you transform cardiovascular care delivery.

Blog Contributors

David Konur, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer, Cardiovascular Logistics
Nick Zaunbrecher, CPA, MHA, Chief Financial Officer, Cardiovascular Logistics
Pamela Pratt, MHA, FACMPE, Vice President of Practice Management, Cardiovascular Logistics
Ryan Hebert, MHA, RT(R), CCIR, Chief Executive Officer, Cardiovascular Institute of the South