Mayo Clinic Transplant Center makes referrals for heart transplant easy

Oct. 28, 2023

When physicians want to refer a patient for potential heart transplant, Mayo Clinic's goal is to make the process easy.

Parag C. Patel, M.D., a transplant cardiologist at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida and Mayo Clinic Heart Transplant Program medical director, explains key elements this program has designed to take the headache out of making a referral and receiving updates.

Straightforward referral process. Mayo Clinic Heart Transplant Program wants patient referral to be user-friendly. Referring physicians may call and speak to a transplant team physician about a patient and ask if the Mayo Clinic physician prefers phone or text communication in the future. The Mayo physician will ask the referring physician to fax the patient's medical records. Mayo Clinic Heart Transplant Program will take it from there.

Strong communication. Mayo Clinic heart transplant staff knows that physicians referring their patients expect a high level of communication about when patient appointments will occur, plus progress updates and outcomes. The program has established process optimization goals to improve patient throughput. Dr. Patel and colleagues are developing a referring physician communication system that works something like a pizza order tracker app, offering live updates on key steps in a patient's journey. This informs referring physicians and encourages the opportunity to be involved in the patient's care at Mayo Clinic. Referring physicians also may access their referred patients' records through Mayo Clinic CareLink.

Shared care model. Mayo Clinic's Heart Transplant Program values patient co-management, sharing care with referring physicians and minimizing patient inconvenience. Thus, some tests to assess the patient's medical needs and transplant eligibility are performed locally under the referring physician's care.

Dr. Patel also offers insights on why physicians would want to refer their patients to Mayo Clinic for evaluation and heart transplant, including:

  • Heart transplant volumes. Performing more than 150 heart transplants in 2022, Mayo Clinic's three campuses in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota have the largest volume of heart transplants in the U.S.
  • Substantial time spent with patients. When a heart transplant program member has a new patient, the physician is afforded significant time for the patient's care. The physician reviews the patient's records before the first appointment, which usually lasts about an hour for examination of and discussion with the patient about needs and desires.
  • Innovative mindset. Heart transplant program members value innovation to foster continuous improvement for patients. A key example of this value involves leading multiple clinical trials to evaluate new medications, devices and procedures. Also, program members collaborate and share best practices across the three Mayo Clinic campuses, fostering learning among the sites.
  • Strong outcomes. The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) evaluates all transplant programs in the U.S. and publicly reports outcomes. According to SRTR, Mayo Clinic Heart Transplant Program locations have strong outcomes — some of the best in the nation.
  • Patient satisfaction. Mayo Clinic Heart Transplant Program's three sites rank in the 98th percentile or higher for the Press Ganey "likelihood to recommend" category.
  • Convenient, three-site program. Mayo Clinic's Heart Transplant Program is the only three-site heart transplant program in the U.S. With its multiple sites nationwide allowing patients to receive heart transplant care across the country, there is certain to be a Mayo Clinic campus convenient for each patient.

"We want to make it easy and satisfying for referrers and their patients," says Dr. Patel. "When a patient comes to Mayo Clinic, we want to provide the best possible quality care. Also, we want to ensure patients encounter the high value of the strong partnership the referring provider has with Mayo Clinic."

For more information

Mayo Clinic CareLink.

The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR).

Refer a patient to Mayo Clinic.