Healthcare excellence is happening all over the world. Modern Healthcare Custom Media caught up with two clinical leaders in Croatia—Prof. Dražen Huić, MD, PhD, head of the department of nuclear medicine and radiation protection at University Hospital Centre Zagreb, and Prof. Goran Krstačić, MD, PhD, FESC, FEHRA, director of the Institute of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation in Zagreb—who are leading transformational change within their respective specialties. In these interviews, Huić and Krstačić discussed exciting new innovations in nuclear medicine and cardiology, while also commenting on how laboratory medicine helps make many of their achievements possible.
Collaborations for healthcare excellence: An interview with two clinical leaders in Croatia
PROF. DRAŽEN HUIĆ: In my department, we treat patients with thyroid cancer and other thyroid diseases. It’s invaluable to our patients that we work closely with the laboratory department because we get test results instantly, allowing patients to understand their disease state more readily and discuss next steps in their care quicker. Collaboration with the laboratory department is essential, because together we can find novel treatments for our patients, leading to better outcomes.
DH: The future of nuclear medicine focuses on collaborating closely with laboratory professionals on the latest diagnostic advancements. In the whole world as well as in Croatia, nuclear medicine is moving to the molecular level, using positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET/CT) diagnostics. Another area where we’re seeing advances is therapy that uses radioactive substances. In nuclear medicine, this approach is called “theranostics.” This is the term used to describe the combination of using one radioactive drug to diagnose and a second radioactive drug to treat the tumor and possible metastases. Laboratory results are critical to measuring the efficacy of this treatment, as they allow us to determine whether a tumor is still metabolically active.
DH: It is a very good way to be recognized outside of your local environment. It’s important for healthcare teams to see what others are doing, so that they can be motivated to achieve similar improvements. When we encourage innovation across the world, we can have a significant, positive impact on patient care. Teams should be encouraged to apply for recognition of their hard work through programs such as UNIVANTS of Healthcare Excellence.
PROF. GORAN KRSTAČIĆ: Subclinical cardiac dysfunction is a key area where laboratory insights can support improvements in care. There is a wide array of novel biomarkers with various purposes in the diagnosis and prognostication of patients with subclinical cardiac dysfunction, and that can lead clinicians to question which are most reliable. Identifying key mediators of cardiovascular disease, such as inflammation, may offer valuable insight into the prediction of cardiovascular disease and allow the laboratory to support clinicians in these important clinical decisions.
GK: Recently, we started a three-year project called “Women and Heart,” which addresses early screening of cardiovascular disease in women 45 years and older. Our goal is to identify at-risk women—because women represent the majority of deaths from cardiovascular disease in Croatia—and then intervene earlier. The project relies on laboratory medicine for its successful execution, as it is based on laboratory analysis of biomarkers of cardiovascular diseases, primarily high-sensitivity Troponin (hs-cTn). So far, 650 women have been involved in the project, which has met our expectations and purpose—a significant number of participants have findings that require further diagnostic processing.
GK: The UNIVANTS of Healthcare Excellence program recognizes practice excellence that leads to measurable results, not only for the patient but for the whole health system, and encourages others to take a similar path. Such an exchange of knowledge, experience and practice is invaluable for achieving excellence.
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Applications for the 2021 awards open August 1st. Prepare now at UnivantsHCE.com.