In an era of rapid and massive changes to the health care system, the physician community has been faced with several challenges and uncertainties over the last several years. To combat these obstacles and to help fight heart disease, the number one killer in the U.S., effective communication and collaboration within and across care teams with a focus on the patient becomes essential. Coordinated systems of care will ensure that relevant clinical information is available at the point of care while duplicative tests and procedures are avoided, saving both time and money.
The American College of Cardiology (ACC) believes that care management activities should exist on a continuum from patient self-management to specialty care management. Over the last several years, the ACC has been focused on developing partnerships, programs and tools to help bridge the gaps that currently exist between physician communication and the understanding by patients and families of their critical roles in managing their heart health.
CardioSmart™, the ACC’s nationwide health initiative to improve heart health, is one of the most innovative ways the ACC is working to empower patients and involve them in their care decisions and outcomes to the extent that they are able and choose to do so. CardioSmart aims to encourage patient involvement and understanding of cardiovascular disease and impacts of lifestyle choices through:
- Delivery of practical tools and information for use in clinician offices through a comprehensive, web-based platform, www.CardioSmart.org
- Creation of robust news and editorial features geared for the patient and their families
- Sponsorship of member-led, community-based events and programs promoting heart health
- Collaboration with strategic external partners to allow broader dissemination of practical tools and patient-centered information
The ACC is also leading the Coalition to Reduce Disparities in Cardiovascular Outcomes (CREDO) in an effort to measurably reduce disparities in the management of cardiovascular disease. CREDO targets health care professionals responsible for cardiovascular care with education tailored to their needs. It also aims to integrate quality improvement measures like the ACC’s clinical guidelines and Appropriate Use Criteria with educational efforts in order to close persisting performance gaps.
Applying care standards to increase patient value also requires data collection, reporting and evaluation. To these ends, the ACC’s National Cardiovascular Data Registry (NCDR®) is the premiere recognized source for measuring and quantifying outcomes and identifying gaps in the delivery of quality care. The NCDR allows facilities to see how they stack up against their peers and gauge where there may be room for quality improvement.
Advances in cardiovascular care have reduced mortality by more than 30 percent over the past few decades. However, with a rapidly aging population, and obesity and diabetes on the rise, the prevalence of heart disease will likely increase and lessen the gains already achieved. With a team-based approach to care and efforts that encourage patient education and involvement, combat disparities, and address gaps in care, I hope that a decade from now we will be on the cusp of toppling heart disease from its position as the number one cause of death both in the U.S. and around the globe.