Naomi Eisenberg outside clinic
Naomi Eisenberg is the vascular database manager at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. For nearly 10 years, she has been inputting information into the Vascular Quality Initiative database. (Photo: UHN)

Naomi Eisenberg knows the work of her and her colleagues can save lives.

Naomi is the vascular database manager at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC). For almost 10 years, she has been inputting information into the Vascular Quality Initiative (VQI) database, which contains data related to 2,700 patients and 3,500 PMCC procedures – and continues to grow.

The information in the database helps the vascular surgery team determine how to best focus and inform quality improvement initiatives. And, that has a direct impact on the care patients receive.

Pooled with other anonymous patient data from cardiac centres across North America, the database also offers the opportunity to benchmark performance and give scientists larger samples for research.

Naomi recalls one patient coming in for a follow up appointment, which is an integral aspect of quality improvement work. During that visit, physicians located a life-threatening nine-centimeter aneurysm.

"QI can help save a leg or a life," she says. "Patients always remind me of that."

It's because of this work that, for the third year in a row, PMCC is the proud recipient of a three-star designation from the Society for Vascular Surgery Vascular Quality Initiative.  

That's the highest designation available from the organization, of which PMCC is a member.

"This really speaks to the commitment of the entire team; they're engaged, and it's a whole team approach," Naomi says. "We do care deeply about the patients.

"For me, it's a privilege to do this kind of work."

Building and maintaining database key for researchers "crucial"

Participating centres earn up to three stars based on criteria leading to better patient care, including:

  • The completeness of long-term, follow-up reporting, based on the percentage of patients for whom they have at least nine months of follow-up data
  • Physician attendance at semi-annual meetings of a regional quality group
  • Initiation of quality improvement activities based on data
  • The number of vascular registries in which the centre participates

"We try to use the database as a springboard," says Naomi, adding the data gathered informs quality improvement initiatives.

The wealth of data available across participating centres in North America as part of this initiative allows centres and providers to compare their performance to regional and national benchmarks with information that has been stripped of any personal health information that may identify the patient.

Future vascular QI projects at PMCC will likely centre on ensuring appropriate levels of fat in patients' blood, and that they're on the proper medications, they've been provided with smoking cessation support, and their diabetes is in check.

"Hard-working, dedicated organizations such as Peter Munk Cardiac Centre are key to the success of the vascular registries," says VQI Medical Director Dr. Jens Eldrup-Jorgensen.

"The work we do to build and maintain the registries for researcher use is crucial to health and outcomes for vascular patients. Like the old saying says, 'if you can't measure it, you can't improve it.'"​

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