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Research & Innovation: Expanding the Boundaries of Pediatric and Adult Cardiac Patient Care and Treatments

At Phoenix Children's doctors want to do more than see if a treatment simply works. "They want to know if it has the ability to bring about change in current care," shared Dr. Wayne J. Franklin, co-director of Phoenix Children's Center for Heart Care, division chief of Cardiology, mid associate director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program. This dedication to growth gives Phoenix Children's a culture of advancement that benefits both its healthcare procedures and the team of doctors and other clinicians that implement them.

Information is at the core of Phoenix Children's Center for Heart Care's healthcare research and innovation. Here, the team pools data from its own surgeries and procedures with those from other national facilities, giving its doctors an understanding of how they are performing and how they can lmprove.

"Our data are among the best in the country," shared Franklin. We do this to create transparency, so we can understand best practices."

Phoenix Children's also contributes to several large national databases. This allows the pediatric health system to submit raw data and collate and compare it with the top 50 heart centers across the United States. Based on this data comparison, the Center for Heart Care has adjusted some of its treatments and has been able to improve patlent outcomes.

Turning data into solutions

Phoenix Children's airns to stay at the forefront of medical treatments. In 2022, the team at Phoenix Children's implanted its first CardioMEMS™ HF System, which consists of two parts: a very small wireless sensor and a home monitoring unit. During a cardiac catheterization, one of the expert interventional cardiologists places the sensor into the pulmonary artery. Once in place, the sensor sends daily measurements of the pressures inside the lungs to the heart failure team at Phoenix Children's. This was the the first time this device was implanted in a child in the state of Arizona, and shortly after, the team was able to quickly show the device's efficacy. In addition, the team also implanted the state's first two transcatheter pulmonary valves (TPV), known as the Harmony™" valve in 2022. "Innovative patient care is at the center of everything at Phoenix Chidlren's." shared Franklin.

Despite its name, Phoenix Children's also treat adults. "Not a lot of children's hospitals treat adults with congenital heart disease," explained Franklin. "But there are a lot of these patients in Arizona, and we treat many who have grown up with our Pediatric Cardiology program. We continue to help them throughout their lives." ln 2021, Phoenix Children's Center for Heart Care earned accreditation from the Adult Congenital Heart Associatlon and remains the only health system ln the state with this accolade. At the end of 2022, Phoenix Children's was recognized by the Adult Congenital Heart Associatlon as Organizational Partner of the Year."

Phoenix Children's focuses on doctors' well-being  as well as its patients. Dr. Daniel A. Velez came to Phoenix Children's in 2012 to perform cardiac surgery; however, he soon, realized that leadership development and upward mobility were not just possible but also actively encouraged. In less than a decade, Dr. Velez became the division chief of Cardiac Surgery and co­director of the Center for Heart Care.

"A very attractive characteristic of Phoenlx Children's is the ability to grow professionally within your specialty and the health system framework as a whole," Velez explained. "Phoenix Children's seeks staff members' opinions on how to improve operations or processes, and the leadership actually listens."

Phoenix Children's hopes these qualities make it attractive to both established heart specialists and emerging cardiologists.

The health system also has a three year Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Program, and it hosts an annual Fetal Cardiology Symposium that delves into the latest advances ln treatment and management of congenital heart disease.

''Whether a physician is asking for mare staff, new technology, hardware or software it is really refreshing here because the answer is always positive," shared Franklin.

If you would like to communicate with Dr. Wayne J. Franklin or Dr. Daniel A Velez about any of the programs or procedures highlighted in this story, please email them at or