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Let’s Keep One Million Hearts Beating Strong!

Larry Jessup and Sheetal Shah | March 5, 2013

In February, communities across America celebrated American Heart month to promote healthy lifestyles and provide Americans with resources to prevent and control heart disease.

Every year, approximately 935,000 AmericansExternal Links Disclaimer suffer from a heart attack, and about 600,000 people die from heart disease, which is 1 out of every 4 American deaths.  Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.

In September 2011, federal agencies partnered with private and non-profit organizations such as the American Heart Association, American Pharmacists Association and the YMCA to launch a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next 5 years known as Million Hearts.  Although the goal is straightforward, the work necessary to achieve

this milestone and reduce critical risk factors of heart disease may be arduous and complex.

The initiative focuses on “Remembering your ABCS”:

A — Appropriate Aspirin Therapy

B — Blood Pressure Control

C — Cholesterol Management

S — Smoking Cessation

The Valentine’s Day Launch of the Million Hearts Risk Check Challenge App

To better help patients understand their risk of heart disease, on February 14, Million Hearts announced the winner of the Million Hearts Risk Check Challenge to help people prevent heart disease.

The app, Heart Health Mobile, created by the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation as part of a national competition, provides information about a person’s risk for heart disease based on answers to questions about their health.

ONC’s Support of Million Hearts

In 2012, ONC launched the Meaningful Use of Meaninguful Use (or MU²) challenge, which identified states, communities, and providers that were embarking upon quality improvement initiatives, such as Million Hearts, with Meaningful Use of health IT as the driver.  Through these submissions, ONC had an opportunity to better understand how communities across the country were using health information technology to improve delivery of care and develop standardized practices for cholesterol management, aspirin intake, blood pressure control, and smoking cessation.

ONC-funded programs are helping health care providers utilize clinical decision support tools and care management functions to interpret patient data and coordinate care for the populations they serve, thereby providing higher quality health care:

  • In Utah, at the West Valley Family and Preventive Medicine Clinic, Utah, staff members use a registry to identify patients overdue for LDL screenings, HgbA1c and blood pressure evaluations.  These providers utilize clinical decision support tools through their electronic health record to help prevent patients suffering from a heart attack or stroke.
  • In Stanly County, North Carolina, health care providers are identifying “at-risk” patients by reviewing specific health indicators in their electronic health record.  Once these patients have been identified, they are enrolled into a patient-centered medical homeExternal Links Disclaimer program which closely tracks and monitors risk factors specific to a chronic condition and provides more coordinated care among primary care physicians and specialists.
  • In Virginia, the Regional Extension Center partnered with VHQC, the state’s Quality Improvement Organization, to provide physicians and their staff with systematic review of tobacco assessments and smoking cessation intervention rates through electronic health record data.  Currently 338 Virginia providers and organizations have pledged to work on the Million Hearts campaign.  Moreover, 67 practices, representing 287 providers, are involved in their Cardiac LAN/Million Hearts efforts.

In addition, there are numerous healthcare organizations across the United States helping to improve care delivery for patients at risk for cardiovascular disease.  For example, as the largest healthcare provider organization in Washington, DC and Maryland, Medstar’s partnership with the Million Hearts Campaign is improving cardiovascular outcomes for a large number of patients in this metropolitan area.  Medstar is committed to ensuring that every adult patient seen by a Medstar primary care doctor will have their ABCS assessed over the course of a series of visits.  Furthermore, every adult patient’s end-of-visit clinical summary includes their ABCS report card which empowers patients to have conversations with their care providers regarding their cardiac risk factors.  Medstar has also set an exciting goal of increasing blood pressure and lipid management to 65% of all their patients by the end of the calendar year.

What are you doing to keep one million hearts beating strong?  Share Your Story With ONC!

Although American Heart Month has ended, Million Hearts continues to beat on!  Together, we can achieve this ambitious goal and find more ways through Health IT to live longer, healthier lives.

If you are a health care provider or patient, we want to know how you have used health IT to support improvements in patient care!  Please tell us your story at: http://www.healthit.gov/tell-your-story or visit the Blue Button Pledge Program.