by ROBERT ALLEN, Nashville Vascular & Vein Institute


We live in a world that is presently driven by technology and therefore data. State-of-the-art technology offers us the opportunity to compile and analyze data like never before in the past. Medicine is similarly driven by data variables and outcomes that can improve patient care and importantly reduce costs. The Vascular Quality Initiative (VQI) was created with the intent to gather data from leading centers and physician leaders from all around our great country.

VQI gathers data on vascular surgery patients from across the nation – over 500 centers are involved to date. The procedures reported in VQI include carotid endarterectomy, carotid stenting, AAA repair (open and endovascular), hemodialysis access, IVC filters, lower extremity bypass grafts and intervention, lower extremity amputation, thoracic aortic endovascular treatments, and even varicose vein treatment.

This is an enormous machine designed to make vascular surgeons better at what we do on a daily basis … and more importantly, provide our patients with better care. Benefits include quality, safety for patient and physician, effectiveness, and cost. Cost savings are distributed across the board to patient, physician, hospitals, and insurance companies. This enormous cache of data through VQI is collected and analyzed to improve the care of our patients. The depth, complexity, and breadth of the analysis are totally up to the physicians involved in VQI. Problems and issues are addressed and studied by analysis of the huge data pool. Importantly, it is the free exchange of the data amongst the physicians that allows VQI to suggest reasonable standards of care and drive improvement for all. Physicians and their performance can be compared locally, regionally, and nationally.

However, all of the above is totally dependent on collection of the data and the quality of the data! The intake of data can be done in a variety of ways. It is all computer-based and relatively user friendly. The modules for each procedure are periodically reviewed and based on physician feedback revised to collect all the important data and not make the task painful for the physician. The data can be collected and entered immediately by the physician (best option), office staff or administration review of the data in retrospect, or third-party data acquisition.

Nashville Vascular & Vein Institute (NVAVI) physicians have taken a leadership role in the VQI, as we are all about quality. We believe if we do not constantly evaluate what we do, how we do it, and compare ourselves to others, then we cannot provide our patients the very best care on a daily basis. Patients treated by NVAVI are entered into the VQI daily. The data is entered by the physicians themselves in real time as soon as the index procedure has ended – this ensures the data is highly accurate as it is entered by the treating physician immediately. Data entered in retrospect days or weeks later is frequently flawed or inaccurate. NVAVI is proud to be a leading center in the VQI – driving excellence in patient care. It really is all about the data.