Lisa Lyon Uses Health IT to Prevent Heart Attacks and Strokes
Lisa Lyon is the Clinical Informatics Coordinator at Cherokee Nation Health Services (CNHS), a tribal health system in northeastern Oklahoma. CNHS serves fourteen counties in the region and is comprised of one hospital and eight ambulatory rural health centers. For the past five years, Nurse Lyon has been working in Health IT as a clinical informaticist, so when she heard about Million Hearts, a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017, Nurse Lyon was determined to bring the program to CNHS.
Using Health IT to Prevent Heart Attacks and Strokes
Million Hearts calls for providers to focus on the “ABCS” –aspirin therapy, blood pressure control, cholesterol management, and smoking cessation – when speaking to their patients about cardiovascular health. As the health system’s Clinical Informatics Coordinator, Nurse Lyon knew the EHR system would be critical to their Million Hearts effort. With EHRs, CNHS is able to efficiently record and track ABCS data, enabling Nurse Lyon and her team to work with the health system’s providers to continually improve performance. “If we see in the EHR report that a provider’s care team is missing blood pressure checks on every patient visit, we can quickly step in and work with the provider to improve performance on the measure,” explained Nurse Lyon. “With Health IT, we are able to see all of our patient data quickly, which makes health care quality improvement much easier.”
While Nurse Lyon and her team are using Health IT to improve provider performance across all of the ABCS measures, they have taken an especially innovative approach to improving blood pressure control. As part of CNHS’s ongoing blood pressure monitoring telehealth program, Nurse Lyon and her team distributed blood pressure cuffs and transmission equipment to a select group of patients. Patients use the cuffs to measure their blood pressure at regularly prescribed intervals and submit blood pressure measurements to a secure website using their mobile phones. A care team at CNHS monitors incoming data and follows up with patients as needed. If a patient’s blood pressure is dangerously high, for example, the care team is able to quickly follow up with the patient via telephone and recommend they visit a doctor. Through the telehealth program, CNHS is harnessing the power of Health IT to improve health care quality.
Million Hearts and Beyond
Although the program is just getting started, CNHS is already seeing improvements across all of the ABCS metrics. “We are seeing improvements in many Million Hearts measures,” said Nurse Lyon. “But the greatest outcome we’ve seen is that patients are more involved and engaged in their health care.”
With no plans to stop improving health care quality, CNHS is also phasing in other quality improvement programs. The rural health system is participating in the Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) initiative and the Improving Patient Care (IPC) program, an Indian Health Service initiative aimed at promoting team-based, patient-centered health care and improving patient outcomes. Additionally, Nurse Lyon spends one week each month working with the National Indian Health Board Regional Extension Center to help other Indian Health Services providers implement Health IT and improve health care quality.