Preventing one million heart attacks and strokes…
The Million Hearts Initiative aims to improve our nation’s cardiovascular health outcomes via community, policy and systems-level changes. The program was established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and co-led by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Specifically, the Million Hearts initiative focuses largely on the ABCS:
- Aspirin for those at risk for heart attack and stroke
- Blood pressure control
- Cholesterol management
- Smoking cessation
There are many aspects of healthcare at work in making this program successful. Among these aspects is healthcare IT. Let’s examine specifically how health information technology supports this initiative and bolsters its success.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs) Health Information Technology
EHRs are central in health IT and serve many purposes in supporting the Million Hearts Initiative. Providers can easily identify patients who have risk factors for cardiovascular disease. From there, providers target these patients with the ABCS and other facets of the Million Hearts Initiative. Also, EHRs can track and measure patient progress to ensure ABCS measures are making an impact in their practice. Similarly, ABCS-related clinical guidelines can be incorporated into clinical decision supports within the EHR system. Educational materials on cardiovascular health can be shared with a specific patient’s health profile within the EHR system.
Fitness Trackers & Wearables
Many patients are already using products like FitBit or Apple Watch to improve their fitness level. Many use these tools to hold themselves accountable to a certain level of activity. These wearables are also a useful piece of health IT, as they can deliver data to providers. The data can be used to track patients’ heart rates and exercise, including number of steps taken per day. This allows providers to develop an accurate picture of their patient’s activity levels, and provides a benchmark for improving cardiovascular health.
Patient Portals revolutionize the way providers connect with their patients. In regards to the Million Hearts Initiative, this is no different. Portals allow patients to have continual communication with their health care providers regarding their blood pressure, eating habits, and exercise levels. At the same time, the portal allows providers to send educational materials directly to their patients.
Technology is a fantastic tool when it comes to improving health outcomes and engagement between patients and providers. With regards to the Million Hearts Initiative, proper use of EHRs, wearables, and other technology could literally save a life by extending patient care beyond face-to-face office encounters.