STS National Database Establishes Important Link with CMS Data

STS News, Spring 2014 -- STS continues to break new ground in patient safety and quality measurement through a new collaboration with the Duke Clinical Research Institute that will enable participants and researchers using data from the STS National Database to track long-term patient outcomes.

"Currently, the STS National Database has clinical data that are all short-term," said STS Research Center Director Fred H. Edwards, MD. "The data include patient outcomes in the hospital and, at most, what happens up to 30 days after discharge. This new collaboration with DCRI will enable STS to track long-term patient outcomes to better understand how patients fare years down the road, which will ultimately lead to improved patient care."

The new collaboration will allow for the linkage of STS National Database data with long-term adult cardiac and general thoracic surgery follow-up data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, such as hospital readmission rates, reinterventions, and survival, for Medicare patients ages 65 and older. Data will be updated annually.

"STS will be able to create more accurate and up-to-date risk models and long-term survival calculators for individual procedures," said David M. Shahian, MD, Chair of the STS Workforce on National Databases. "Surgeons would be able to estimate survival probability for patients based on their specific illness severity, co-existing medical conditions, and symptoms. This is particularly important for patients as they research treatment options and work with their physician teams to select the care they feel is best."

Benefits for STS Members

As medical research evolves, having a database linked with comprehensive patient outcome information will allow researchers to quickly and efficiently access data and conduct comparative effectiveness studies.

"This will be a profound change for the STS Research Center," Dr. Edwards said. "We now have a CMS data link in place for research proposals that are submitted to the STS Access & Publications Task Force. This will allow researchers to do a number of analyses they haven’t been able to do in the past."

The new CMS link will also enhance the information provided to Database participants.

"The Database harvest reports will soon include long-term outcomes from a participant’s site. These outcomes can be compared to national benchmarks," Dr. Edwards said.

Health Care Economics

This new link—a first for any medical specialty society—will also allow researchers to evaluate the overall cost of patient care, which is especially important with the current focus on rising health care costs in the United States.

"Duke has been the primary analysis center for the STS National Database for the past 15 years, and during that time the Database and the field of cardiothoracic surgery have seen tremendous growth," said J. Matthew Brennan, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center. "I think we are all hopeful that this collaboration will ultimately help patients by taking the Database to a new level and addressing clinical and economic questions that could not have been addressed previously."

Learn more about the STS National Database at & research opportunities at