MedStar Health, the largest nonprofit healthcare provider in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., region, has launched a tool that automatically calculates a patient's risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Patients who visit MedStar Health cardiology, primary care, family medicine, and endocrinology providers will be able to see their individual risk in an easy to understand graphic format in their electronic health record. The calculator draws in data like a patient's blood pressure, cholesterol, history of diabetes and other factors, and computes their 10-year cardiovascular event risk. The tool also displays how their heart risk could improve by making lifestyle changes like losing weight, quitting smoking or reducing cholesterol.
“Seeing their risk on a visual display is more powerful than me telling them their risk,” said Ankit Shah, M.D., M.P.H., director of Sports & Performance Cardiology for the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, in a statement. “We think this tool, embedded right in the medical record, means that more patients will be made aware of their cardiac status and how making simple changes can reduce their risk. We can now sit next to our patients, share a computer screen and see how a change in cholesterol or blood pressure affects their chances of having a heart attack or stroke.”
The tool streamlines the power of the Million Hearts risk calculator into a graphic display that’s embedded all in one place. In a statement, Carolina Isabel Valdiviezo, M.D., attending cardiologist at the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., explained why that is important. “MedStar Health’s heart risk calculator application is a game changer because it gives patients a clear, colorful display of their risk, which can be more understandable and more impactful, ” she said. “I could use the Million Hearts calculator with my patients, but it was cumbersome going back and forth between the tool and the patient chart. Since this calculator is now seamlessly integrated into the patient record, it’s easier for us as clinicians and much more likely physicians will use it during their office visits.”
A total of 575 providers at 10 MedStar Health hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers across Maryland and the Washington, D.C. area have access to the tool.
The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology as part of the Leading Edge Acceleration Projects (LEAP) in Health IT cooperative agreement. In November 2018, ONC named the MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare one of two winners of nearly $2 million in combined grant funding.
In the initial months of the launch, MedStar Health’s human factors experts will evaluate the effectiveness of the new application to improve care, processes, and outcomes. In the months ahead, the team hopes to develop educational materials that patients can take home. Following this launch and optimization period, the application has the potential to be used by other healthcare platforms and providers nationwide.