From the ground up: building a minimally invasive aortic valve surgery program
Minimally invasive aortic valve replacement (MIAVR) is associated with numerous advantages including improved patient satisfaction, cosmesis, decreased transfusion requirements, and cost-effectiveness. Despite these advantages, little information exists on how to build a MIAVR program from the ground up. The steps to build a MIAVR program include compiling a multi-disciplinary team composed of surgeons, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, perfusionists, operating room (OR) technicians, and nurses. Once assembled, this team can then approach hospital administrators to present a cost-benefit analysis of MIAVR, emphasizing the importance of reduced resource utilization in the long-term to offset the initial financial investment that will be required. With hospital approval, training can commence to provide surgeons and other staff with the necessary knowledge and skills in MIAVR procedures and outcomes. Marketing and advertising of the program through the use of social media, educational conferences, grand rounds, and printed media will attract the initial patients. A dedicated website for the program can function as a “virtual lobby” for patients wanting to learn more. Initially, conservative selection criteria of cases that qualify for MIAVR will set the program up for success by avoiding complex co-morbidities and surgical techniques. During the learning curve phase of the program, patient safety should be a priority.