Dr. Bruce Lytle, the cardiac surgeon who launched the Cleveland Clinic’s world renowned Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute in 2007, has accepted a new job at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano. The news comes as the Society of Thoracic Surgeons again awarded the Collin County specialty hospital with its highest rating in all three of its quality categories, placing it in the top 1.1 percent of all cardiac programs in the U.S.
Lytle, 70, had a new title created just for him: chairman of cardiovascular strategic development and planning for cardiovascular medicine and surgery. His first day was on December 14.
“This hospital was the culmination of bringing together a group of people that were in private practice and effectively engaged in treating cardiovascular disease in a geographic area,” Lytle said. “Now, how do we go from being a hospital that has been very effective in delivering clinical care like that to a hospital that continues to be even more effective in things like research, education, and then a level of super specialization?”
He worked for 38 years at the Cleveland Clinic, seven of which were spent as the chairman of the Heart & Vascular Institute. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the hospital’s heart center as the best in the nation for 21 consecutive years. Lytle was the first person to lead the institute upon its creation in 2007. By the time he stepped down in 2014, he had built a team of 100 cardiologists and 25 surgeons who performed north of 7,600 surgeries each year, according to Cleveland’s Plain-Dealer. The critical care spinoff institute was dedicated to breaking down the traditional silos that separated cardiologists and cardiac surgeons from participating in care teams alongside one another, according to archived news reports.
He helped the center launch an affiliation program, identifying partners in other geographic regions from which to send patients (including Baylor Scott & White Health). It helped bolster Cleveland’s contract negotiations with large employers who had a presence outside Ohio but wanted the same standard of care closer to home.
This forward-thinking, almost marketing-esque mentality helped make him a target for Dr. David Brown, the founder and president of medical affairs at THHBP.
“One of the coolest things that I have seen or heard in the last number of years came when we started doing a joint venture deal with the Cleveland Clinic … (Lytle) sat down after six months of reviewing our data and said, ‘what is wrong with you? You are the best kept secret in America,’” Brown said. “We said, ‘OK, Bruce, come change that. We don’t want to be the best kept secret in America.’”
Lytle’s collaborative philosophy is echoed in the 116-bed Plano hospital. Brown’s motivation to start his own shop actually stemmed from the desire to form individual treatment regimens for each patient using input from all of the stakeholders and specialists. Silos be damned. In 2003, when planning for the hospital began, that was actually a radical concept. Volume-based payment models sent money to interventional cardiologists for every stent they placed and reimbursed the surgeons for every bypass. By handing a patient to the other, you were risking your bottom line.
Brown thought this thinking short-changed the patients and decided to start a hospital himself, driven by data. You can read more about how that all started in this D Magazine feature from last April. The hospital opened in 2007.
“We predicated this hospital on the idea that quality wins,” Brown says.
Part of Lytle’s job will involve recruiting talent from outside Plano and cultivating that “super specialization” that he mentioned earlier. That means giving physicians time to become some of the best in the world at individual procedures. He’ll also try to partner with other institutions to get more opportunities for education, training, research, and medical device trials. And as more of its affiliated physicians gain notoriety, Lytle believes it will open more of those doors.
He’ll have some ammunition: The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the foremost society of cardiothoracic surgery, maintains a national database of metrics that are voluntarily uploaded by more than 1,000 programs within the U.S. That number shifts from year to year, but Brown said there were about 1,013 for 2015. Consumer Reports and U.S. News and World Report use the STS ratings as standards for their own.
The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano was one of just 11 cardiac centers to score three stars in all three categories: coronary bypass surgery; aortic valve replacement; and aortic valve replacement and coronary bypass grafting. Centers are judged by the avoidance of mortality and major complications; post-operative outcomes; and the use of data-driven processes and medications to positively impact outcomes.
“The hope of the hospital in the future is to have more and more of a national and international impact,” Lytle said. “Despite the fact that my colleagues here have been extremely good at what they have done, that doesn’t mean that there’s nowhere they can go in the future.”