CVForward  >  The Value of an LAAC Coordinator

THE VALUE OF AN LAAC COORDINATOR

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Ruth Fisher

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Left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) and patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF) saw a milestone in 2015: Boston Scientific’s WATCHMAN™ was approved by the FDA, and CV service lines in the United States began offering patients an alternative to blood thinning drugs to manage these patients’ stroke risk.

As a new therapy, there are many aspects of establishing a successful LAAC program that warrant the engagement of a coordinator. These include:

Manage documentation of patient understanding and elective consent, which is mandatory by CMS

Manage documentation of patient understanding and elective consent, which is mandatory by CMS

Data entry into CMS registry

Data entry into CMS registry

CMS or insurance pre-authorization and claims

CMS or insurance pre-authorization and claims

Coordination of echocardiographer, anesethiologist, implanter, and hybrid or cath lab

Coordination of echocardiographer, anesethiologist, implanter, and hybrid or cath lab

Pre-screening and follow-up appointments for patient selection and post-procedure care

Pre-screening and follow-up appointments for patient selection and post-procedure care

Communication with referring office

Communication with referring office

To ensure accuracy, efficiency, and best-in-class patient care, there is increasing need for LAAC coordinators as the portfolio of structural heart therapies grows. Some institutions are finding success in creating the specific role of an LAAC coordinator.
Coordination of echocardiographer, anesethiologist, implanter, and hybrid or cath lab

Ruth Fisher, Vice President of Heart and Vascular Services at Henry Ford Health Systems, found that the LAAC coordinator role has been pivotal in creating a highly-regarded LAAC program. In their case, they have folded the LAAC coordinator role into part of the responsibility of 3 staff members that coordinate procedures. However, in the future, they believe they will be able to establish a full-time employee dedicated exclusively to this role.

For any CV service line leader considering the prospect of establishing an LAAC coordinator in their institution, Ruth provides some well-informed advice.

 
What are the qualities of an ideal LAAC coordinator?
  • Registered Nurse
  • 4-year bachelor’s degree
  • Cardiology background
  • Customer-service orientation (the LAAC coordinator spends a great amount of time with patients and referring physicians)
  • Experienced multi-tasker
  • Good prioritization skills
  • Strong critical thinking skills
Ruth also recommends candidates who are already established at the hiring institution. Leveraging established relationships can help ease the transition into this new role.
 
Considering the idea of an LAAC coordinator?

1. Gather input from peers and other
CV service line administrators

“I think it helps when you get a couple of flavors of how people do it. These coordinator jobs are different from hospital to hospital.”

2. Take the time to find the right person

“You want to make sure to get someone with experience in cardiology and in complex patient care. There’s so much to learn, so get an RN who is highly seasoned.”

3. Support them

“You have to give that person both administrative and physician support. It’s a difficult job and you want that person to succeed.”

 
Presenting the idea to management?
  • Start with your strategic plan and estimate how much growth in LAAC you can expect
  • Lay out how many hours are needed based on all the requirements for LAAC. Define what percentage of an FTE (full-time employee) the LAAC coordinator role will require
  • Call out that the LAAC coordinator is a specialized role, and show that it is not something that you already have with your existing staff
  • Be sure to demonstrate the financial case. Show the ROI based on the investment, plus the additional potential for increased referrals
  • Emphasize the potential of the LAAC coordinator to expedite care, impact outcomes, smooth over pain-points, and increase patient satisfaction

“Upper management wants to see how you’re going to create growth.”

- Ruth Fisher
Vice President of Heart and Vascular Services
Henry Ford Health Systems

 
Making an impact on the team

At the Henry Ford Health System, the LAAC coordinator is the “center of the wheel” and has had an impact on the larger medical team.

LAAC requires teamwork between the imager, implanter, referring physician, and the entire cath lab team. A good LAAC coordinator improves teamwork among all stakeholders, increases the level of comfort among different disciplines, and helps create faster facilitation.

 
Making an impact on the patient

The LAAC coordinator is a role that involves a great amount of patient contact and management. Ruth has seen the LAAC coordinator make a major impact on the patient experience. In one particular case, the patient took the time to express their gratitude:

“We had an 80-year-old patient who had the procedure and now his wife says he won’t’ stay home because of his active golf schedule. That's the kind of feedback we love to hear!"

 

 

Related Content

Visit these websites for more helpful information from other industry thought leaders.

Using a WATCHMAN LAAC Device: From a Coordinator’s Perspective

By Tara Mudd, MSN, APRN, NP-C, Watchman Coordinator

A case study describing LAAC impact, created by an LAAC coordinator at Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Kentucky.

Boston Scientific’s WATCHMAN Home Page

Find information about starting an LAAC program, patient selection tools, clinical data, and reimbursement resources.


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