Transforming Cardiovascular Medicine Across Brigham Health

On August 1, 2019, John F. Keaney, Jr., MD, assumed the role of chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine in the Department of Medicine and executive director of the Heart and Vascular Center (HVC) at Brigham Health.
Keaney info box, cardiovascular medicine

Dr. Keaney succeeded Calum MacRae, MD, PhD, who served as chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine from 2014 to 2018, and Samuel Goldhaber, MD, who served as interim chief from 2018 to 2019.

In this new role, Dr. Keaney is defining a progressive and innovative future for cardiology and aims to energize, expand and transform cardiovascular medicine across Brigham Health.

Redesigning The Heart & Vascular Center

The Heart & Vascular Center is one of the largest cardiovascular centers in the United States, treating more than 54,000 patients and performing more than 1,300 vascular surgeries annually at the state-of-the-art Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center.

Ranked #8 in Cardiology and Heart Surgery (2018-19) by U.S. News & World Report, the HVC at Brigham Health brings together a full range of heart and vascular services across multiple departments, including Cardiac Surgery, Vascular/Endovascular Surgery, Cardiovascular Medicine, Cardiac Anesthesia, and Vascular Anesthesia.

Working with clinical and administrative leaders, Dr. Keaney is spearheading a redesign of the HVC to improve access and navigation for patients. “Our cardiovascular experts provide extraordinary care for patients suffering from common to the most complex cardiovascular conditions. We want the Heart & Vascular Center to operate not as a collection of clinical services, but as a single entity,” says Dr. Keaney.

The Heart & Vascular Center redesign also involves making clinical services clearer to referring physicians. New systems will make it easier for providers to refer patients as well as to follow-up on patients and stay abreast of developments.

“We are also examining the inpatient setting, identifying inefficiencies and removing bottlenecks. As patient throughput becomes more streamlined, the patient and referring provider experiences will continue to improve,” says Dr. Keaney.

Providing leading-edge cardiovascular therapies 

An active investigator whose work in vascular and redox biology has been groundbreaking, Dr. Keaney is proud to advance the Brigham’s world-renowned reputation for moving the field of cardiovascular medicine forward through cutting-edge clinical trials and basic research.

“The Brigham’s intellectual contributions have had an outsized impact on the field of heart and vascular medicine, but we also need to continue offering the most advanced treatments and services,” says Dr. Keaney.

As an example, Brigham Health has one of the most active TAVR programs in New England. In April 2018, the Program celebrated it’s 1,000th case, making it the fastest to reach this milestone in New England and has since reached more than 1,500 cases.

Led by Pinak Bipin Shah, MD, and Tsuyoshi Kaneko, MD, in collaboration with chief of Cardiac Surgery, Prem S. Shekar, MD, the TAVR program is an example of cross-disciplinary efforts in the Heart & Vascular Center.

“Our TAVR program is growing rapidly and offers a streamlined experience for patients. With the FDA approval of TAVR for low-risk patients, TAVR could become a first-line treatment option for many patients with severe aortic stenosis,” says Dr. Keaney.

The Heart & Vascular Center remains on the leading edge of several clinical areas in cardiovascular medicine:

Leading cardiovascular trials with the potential to transform clinical practice

“Investigators at the Brigham are continually leading clinically directed trials that help bring the latest cardiovascular discoveries to patients,” says Dr. Keaney.

At the 2019 European Society of Cardiology conference, investigators from Brigham Health presented results from some of the most highly anticipated cardiovascular trials.

Read more: “At ESC Conference, Brigham Investigators Present Cardiovascular Discoveries

Developing faculty and nurturing trainees

Working with hospital leaders, Dr. Keaney aims to improve faculty development, physician wellness and engagement. He hopes all clinicians are engaged and regard Brigham Health as a place where they can advance and nurture their careers. “If our clinicians are happy and engaged, it will trickle down to our patients,” says Dr. Keaney.

Dr. Keaney also aims to improve the Cardiovascular Fellowship Programs. New programs are being developed that will help fellows choose and launch their careers as well as improve their quality of life by offering more social opportunities. 

“We want to enhance the trainee experience at the Brigham. Trainees are our future providers and we want to continue attracting and nurturing the best and the brightest cardiovascular experts in the world,” says Dr. Keaney.

‘Bask in the glow of your people’

For Dr. Keaney, expanding and transforming cardiovascular medicine across Brigham Health all comes down to the people who he sees as talented, ambitious, and unwilling to stop until they improve or solve a problem.

“The key to leading a successful institution is to surround yourself with great people, give them clear direction, and let them do their job, providing support or guidance if needed,” says Dr. Keaney.

A mentor of his was Eugene Braunwald, MD who had a saying that proved true throughout Dr. Keaney’s career. Dr. Braunwald said, “Surround yourself with great people and bask in the glow of what they do.”

To refer a patient to the Heart & Vascular Center, please contact a patient coordinator at (617) 732-7678 or make a referral online.