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Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a transformative technology that has revolutionized the care of patients with symptomatic severe aortic stenosis. Procedural TAVR volumes are now comparable with those for isolated surgical AVR and continued growth is expected with expanding numbers of patients meeting eligibility requirements. Randomized clinical trials of TAVR vs surgical AVR in low surgical risk patients are under way; planning for a trial of TAVR vs active surveillance in asymptomatic patients is in its late stages. Currently, there are more than 500 US TAVR hospitals, a more than 3-fold increase since 2012.
The rational dispersion of this technology has been a consistent concern since it was first approved for commercial use. How should patient access to this life-changing procedure be balanced against the need to promote the highest-quality care and insure optimal outcomes? Strategies used to address this challenge have included linkage of site selection criteria to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reimbursement, US Food and Drug Administration indications for use labeling, institutional and operator requirements recommended by professional societies, and medical device company support. Participation in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons/American College of Cardiology Transcatheter Valve Therapy Registry (NCT01737528) is a requisite. The cumulative experience with TAVR is now robust enough to carefully examine not only survival and functional outcomes, but also the processes of care and measures of efficiency and quality that define best practices. It is inevitable that the conversation will turn to questions such as whether there are too many, too few, or just the right number of individual hospitals and whether alternative models of integrated care across hospitals should be considered, especially as the field of transcatheter therapies continues to evolve.
O’Gara PT. The Balance Between Access and Quality in Transcatheter Valve Therapies. JAMA Cardiol. 2017;2(7):741. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2017.1651
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