Minimizing Heart Disease Risk in North Carolina

While heart disease is the No. 1 killer for Americans, with nearly half having at least one of the top three risk factors—high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a smoking habit—many people are not getting the latest in evidence-based care for heart disease. A research initiative at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is trying to change that.

Heart Health NOW! Advancing Heart Health in NC Primary Care equips providers throughout North Carolina with the tools they need to minimize heart disease in their patients and communities. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) funded the research as part of the national EvidenceNOWinitiative.

“AHRQ funded this study to show that primary care practices, especially small practices that don’t have support from larger health systems, would be really good at improving patient care if they had the right data and support,” says Samuel Cykert, MD, professor of medicine in UNC’s Division of General Internal Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology. As the principal investigator of Heart Health NOW!, Dr. Cykert says the study focuses on changes in health care related to payment system reform, value-based care and efforts to target the best care to a large population of patients.

“The old paradigm was that a doctor would take care of whatever patient showed up and do the best he or she could with that patient at that time,” he says. “The new paradigm is that you have a whole panel, a whole population of patients, and you not only have to pay attention to the data on the patients who are in front of you, but you also have to find ways to engage patients who aren’t doing well and who aren’t necessarily in front of you right now.”

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Originally published February 6, 2018.

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