Eliminating inequalities in cardiovascular care was the focus of an ACC co-sponsored Capitol Hill briefing on Feb. 16. The event aimed to raise awareness about important public policy strategies and investments to address health care inequities.
Herman A. Taylor, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.C., director and principal investigator of the Jackson Heart Study, provided the keynote address. The Jackson Heart Study was a landmark initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the heart health of 5,300 African-American men and women in Jackson, Miss.
Other topics discussed included inequities in health care access and health care delivery, barriers to care – especially for minorities and how health care quality initiatives can reduce health inequities.
American College of Cardiology (ACC) CEO Jack Lewin, M.D., spoke at the briefing and specifically addressed reducing inequities through quality measurement. He said cardiovascular disease disparities exist and lead to avoidable, premature morbidity and mortality and evidence-based care can reverse those disparities. The tools for redressing disparities are consistent with providing patient-centered, evidenced-based care. He said the keys to reducing disparities include performance measure-based quality improvement, provider education and patient education.
He highlighted examples of measure-based quality efforts within the ACC such as credo, the Coalition to Reduce Disparities in CV Outcomes which seeks to give health care providers information and tools to equitably treat their diverse patient populations with or at risk of cardiovascular disease. He also focused on the NCDR registries, specifically the PINNACLE Registry, cardiology’s largest outpatient quality improvement registry, which now contains more than 1.5 million patient encounters. The registry contains records covering patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), heart failure, hypertension and atrial fibrillation submitted by hundreds of outpatient cardiologists throughout the U.S. He also talked about the ACC’s CardioSmart patient health initiative, aimed at helping patients take control of their health.
“The tools are here and we should be encouraged and not underestimate the power they hold to cross this quality chasm,” Lewin said. “It’s going to make a difference – it already has made a difference – and is going to change behaviors.”
Read the complete text of Lewin’s remarks.