Practitioner of the Year: Hassan Rajjoub, MD

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO
Practitioner of the Year: Hassan Rajjoub, MD

Interventional Cardiologist, Licking Memorial Heart Center

In cardiology, every minute counts. Dr. Hassan Rajjoub has been critical in bringing life-saving cardiac care to Licking County patients.

Rajjoub is Licking Memorial Heart Center's only interventional cardiologist and medical director of the hospital's Cardiac Catheterization Lab and Chest Pain Center. He joined the hospital in 2011 after serving as chief of cardiology at St. Rita's Medical Center in Lima.

Moving to Licking Memorial gave him the opportunity to establish a world-class interventional practice in a county that was deeply in need of quality cardiac care. Licking County sees a lot of cardiac health problems due to smoking and obesity, says Rajjoub.

"With the heart, every minute counts. Time is muscle, as we say in cardiology," says Rajjoub. In the 45 minutes it takes to transport a patient from Licking County to Riverside or Ohio State, "you might miss the window of opportunity to save this patient's life."

The 11.8 percent of cardiac patients who arrive in Licking's emergency department likely to need open heart surgery are sent to Columbus once Rajjoub and his team stabilize them. The majority receive the interventional care they need in their own community, from their own doctor.

"If you have a procedure somewhere else, it's disconnected care, in a way," says Rajjoub, who works with patients before and after interventional procedures so they have a continuity of care.

Rajjoub's devotion to patients is remarkable. He's been on call every night for the past four years, usually providing care six or seven days a week. His specialized training puts Licking Memorial among the minority of hospitals nationwide performing radial angioplasty. He's driven by the high-pressure, life-or-death nature of interventional cardiac procedures.

"To work without a surgical backup, you really need to know what you're doing," he says. "You're on your own in the middle of the night if somebody comes in with an emergency, heart attack, crashing."

Because of the processes he's implemented, Licking Memorial has reduced its average door-to-balloon time to 59 minutes-well below the 90-minute American College of Cardiology guideline for interventional procedures.

By the time the ambulance arrives at a patient's home, Rajjoub's team is already gearing up for action. Paramedics email EKG results to his cell phone, allowing him to activate the catheter lab while a heart attack patient is in transit. He and his staff rush to the hospital if it's after normal hours. They shave the patient, administer blood thinner, take them to the cath lab, drape them, then go in through the arm and open the artery.

"This is a tremendous thing. It saves us a lot of time. It used to be: wait until the ambulance gets here," he says.

The coordination Rajjoub has implemented among the ER doctors, nurses, paramedics and support staff has made the process as smooth and efficient as possible. His goal for coming years is to maintain the high level of service his experienced department delivers.

Cardiologist, Mount Carmel Columbus Cardiology Consultants, and system director, Structural Heart and Valve Center at Mount Carmel Health System

Great physicians deliver high-quality treatment to patients while also advancing their fields through groundbreaking research. Cardiologist Noah Jones has devoted himself to both pursuits at Mount Carmel Health System.

Through his practice and research, Jones has "played a vital role in the development of the structural heart program at Mount Carmel Health System," writes nominator Dr. Richard Streck, EVP and chief clinical operations officer for the system.

Since joining Mount Carmel in 2011, Jones has led groundbreaking research and advanced treatment programs. His contributions have earned Mount Carmel recognition as a Valve Center of Excellence, made the system first in the nation for EKOS catheter treatment of pulmonary embolus, and helped the system become one of the top centers in the nation for carotid stenting.

His research has led to additional treatment options for high-risk cardiology patients.

Physician & owner, Your Private MD

In today's complex healthcare landscape, fewer and fewer physicians have gone into practice for themselves. An estimated 33 percent of doctors in the US will operate private practices in 2016, down from 57 percent in 2000, according to a 2015 Accenture report on independent physicians. Accenture reports that nearly a quarter of physicians going into private practice will consider using a subscription-based business model.

That approach has worked for Dr. Gina Love-Walker. Patients of her concierge practice, Your Private MD, pay monthlyfees ranging from $69 to $140 depending on age and membership level. In return, they receive 24/7 access and "unhurried" same-day appointments as needed-including home visits and telephone consultations.

Love-Walker's treatment model cuts third-party insurers-including Medicare-out of the doctor-patient relationship. Your Private MD provides holistic care that "encourages health care responsibility," writes one of her nominating patients.