STS Reimagines Its Approach to Member Products, Services

STS News, Summer 2020 — The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a powerful trigger that not only has changed just about everything in daily life, but also has accelerated adoption of new methods of education and information sharing.

As temperature taking, elbow bumps, and face coverings, as well as constant hand washing and hand sanitizing become the proverbial “new normal,” the Society is managing the immediate impact and recognizing the importance of keeping an eye on longer-term changes.

While there is much uncertainty about what the future holds, STS will be vigilant in its efforts to develop and share timely information, expanded resources, expert guidance, and superior educational opportunities. The Society’s top priority remains supporting the needs of its members and helping to ensure that those within the cardiothoracic surgery community stay connected, learn from one another, and lean on each other as the world tackles this historic public health crisis.

Here are some of the ways that STS is continuing to support its members and offer valuable products and services during this challenging time:

Education

The Society canceled all remaining planned in-person meetings for 2020, but both the 17th Annual Perioperative and Critical Care Conference (September 24–26) and Advances in Quality & Outcomes: A Data Managers Meeting (September 29–October 2) will be held in virtual format. See page 11 for additional information about these upcoming courses

At press time, STS was considering its options for the 57th Annual Meeting, scheduled for January 30–February 2, 2021, in Austin, Texas. The latest information can be found at sts.org/annualmeeting.

Webinars

The Society presented the free live webinar series, “Cardiothoracic Surgery in the COVID Crisis,” which focused on important topics related to the coronavirus. Featuring STS members and other expert participants, including public health, industry, and infectious disease specialists, the webinars provided information on lessons learned, best practices, and key considerations to help navigate cardiothoracic surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic and ramp up for the future.

These webinars cumulatively attracted more than 8,000 viewers to the live broadcasts. An archive is available online at sts.org/webinars and on the STS YouTube channel.

Also now under way is the “STS Summer Series,” a collection of biweekly, hour-long webinars featuring presentations and discussions on a variety of key topics—some are related to the COVID-19 crisis, while others are geared toward clinical or career development topics in cardiothoracic surgery. The webinars are broadcast live via Zoom and Facebook on Thursdays at 6:00 p.m. ET/3:00 p.m. PT.

The first episode, “Early Career Surgeons, COVID-19, and the Future,” aired on June 4. Moderators Joseph A. Dearani, MD, and Mara B. Antonoff, MD, talked to colleagues from around the US and in varying practice situations about how they have been coping—both physically and emotionally. The panel shared insights on how cardiothoracic surgeons can thrive in the specialty as they begin to emerge from the COVID crisis.

In addition, other episodes have explored topics such as robotic cardiac surgery and the financial impact of COVID on cardiothoracic surgery. The next webinar—scheduled for July 16—will highlight low-risk transcatheter aortic valve replacement, with the following episode delving into the challenging and controversial issue of Medicare reimbursement cuts. Webinar dates and topics may vary based on speaker availability.

The series will include seven episodes, and each episode will be available on the STS website and the Society’s YouTube channel the day after the live broadcast.

COVID-19 Resources Page

The COVID-19 Resources page offers a plethora of helpful information and resources, including links to a real-time tracking map, guidance documents, active research projects, resource tools, a personal protective equipment (PPE) burn rate calculator, and video messages from Dr. Dearani, STS President.

Also available are additional articles, videos, and PowerPoint presentations on topics such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, PPE, ventilator management, telehealth, and many others. Stay informed by visiting sts.org/covidresources.

This visual abstract supported a guidance document detailing protective measures to reduce the risk of infection.

Guidance Documents

Throughout the past few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, seven STS-supported guidance documents have been published in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery. Members of a special STS COVID Task Force, as well as other surgeon leaders and leading organizations, collaborated on the articles, which cover all major disciplines within the specialty—adult cardiac, general thoracic, and congenital.

These documents detail “granular guidance” and recommendations for ramping up cardiac surgery, safely reintroducing cardiovascular services, implementing aggressive infection mitigation strategies, stratifying adult cardiac patients, triaging congenital heart disease patients, and facilitating difficult decisions when caring for patients with thoracic malignancies. Links to all of the documents can be found at sts.org/covidresources.

Resource Tools

With informed resource allocation decisions more important than ever, the Society developed two interactive, online tools to help triage adult cardiac surgery cases: STS Resource Utilization Tool for Cardiac Surgery and the COVID-19 Resource Prediction Instrument.

The Resource Utilization Tool is powered by more than 440,000 de-identified patient records from the most recent 2-year period in the Adult Cardiac Surgery Database (ACSD). It displays national averages of outcome metrics such as time in the operating room, time on the ventilator after surgery, hospital lengths of stay, and expected number of blood product units likely to be needed. Access the tool at sts.org/resourcetool.

The Prediction Instrument, based on 10 years of data from the ACSD, is designed to be used in conjunction with the Resource Utilization Tool. This instrument, available at sts.org/covidinstrument, provides a rapid estimate of ventilator hours, ICU time, transfusions, and risk of acute reoperation.

Both resources are free to use and open to everyone.

Blog Articles

A number of STS members have written blog articles, sharing their experiences and perspectives from the fight on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis. The columns covered a broad range of topics, including staying grounded during COVID-19, how leaders make decisions during times of crisis, embracing the changes in health care, and how different regions, the US and Hong Kong, in particular, are dealing with the pandemic. A full list of the articles is available at sts.org/covidresources.

Throughout the upcoming weeks and months, the Society will continue to serve the surgical community by disseminating information, as well as facilitating opportunities and education.