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Joint programmes are an alternative model that may aid in improving congenital cardiac surgery outcomes while avoiding the potential resource and accessibility challenges that could result from regionalisation. This study aims to characterise current joint programmes, identify factors that are associated with joint programme success and failure, and gauge attitudes within the profession regarding joint programmes as an alternative.
A multiple choice survey with 23 standard questions for all programmes and additional 42 additional questions for each participant hospital in a joint programme was addressed to paediatric cardiac surgeons in the United States of America. Questions were designed to qualitatively and quantitatively characterise congenital cardiac surgery joint programmes.
Of the 34 unique congenital cardiac surgery programmes identified in this survey, 14 have participated in a joint programme and 50% of those joint programmes existed for more than 10 years. Most joint programmes (86%) participate or participated in a model where the hospital participants are engaged in a “mother–daughter” relationship in both perception and case volume distribution. In three out of four defunct joint programmes, there were case complexity limitations placed on partner institutions, but the now independent partner institutions operate with no limitation on complexity. Most (71%) hospital participants in a joint programme felt that the joint programme produced better outcomes than two separate programmes; however, among those who participate or have participated in a joint programme, only 18% felt that joint programmes were the optimal model for delivery of congenital cardiac surgical care.
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