Personal and Professional Characteristics of U.S. Dual-Boarded Critical Care Cardiologists in 2015

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Abstract

Objectives:

Evaluate the characteristics of U.S. physicians who are board certified in cardiology and critical care medicine (“dual-boarded cardiologists”).

Design:

Retrospective cross-sectional study using a comprehensive database of licensed U.S. physicians linked to Medicare claims.

Setting:

The United States.

Subjects:

Dual-boarded cardiologists.

Measurements and Main Results:

We used a comprehensive physician database to identify all physicians who were board certified in cardiology and critical care medicine before July 2015. We assessed physicians’ characteristics and compared dual-boarded cardiologists with and without active board certification in critical care medicine and estimated the maximum proportion of 2014 Medicare Cardiac ICU admissions treated by dual-boarded cardiologists. Among 473 dual-boarded cardiologists, 16 (3.4%) were women; 468 (99%) and 85 (18%) maintained active board certification in cardiology and critical care medicine, respectively. Overall, 98 dual-boarded cardiologists (21%) submitted 1,215 total claims for critical care services in 2014. Compared to dual-boarded cardiologists without active board certification in critical care medicine, those with active certification had more publications (median publications: 6.5 vs 3.0; p = 0.002), were more likely to be professors (22.3% vs 9.5%; p = 0.003), and were more likely to bill Medicare for critical care services (29% vs 17.8%; p = 0.002). We estimated that no more than 0.47% of all 2014 Medicare Cardiac ICU admissions were treated by a dual-boarded cardiologist.

Conclusions:

Dual-boarded cardiologists appear to deliver a small proportion of all Cardiac ICU services received by Medicare beneficiaries. Optimizing the modern Cardiac ICU workforce will require greater efforts to promote and support the training of dual-boarded cardiologists.

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