Practice Support Update Blog

A Special "Thank You" To Our Heart Health Now Practices!

Jan 13, 2021 11:00:00 AM / by Practice Support Team

The Northwest AHEC practice support team would like to thank you for allowing us to assist your team in meeting the challenges of primary care. In particular, we’d like to thank you for your participation in a statewide campaign called Heart Health Now (HHN!). Your efforts were critical to saving lives and improving clinical outcomes, especially for patients identified as high-risk for cardiovascular disease and mortality.  

Female doctor holding hearts at the hospital and smilingResults of the HHN! Project were recently published in the journal Health Services Research. Your work helped to reduce the average risk of serious cardiovascular events for patients from 23% to 17%, a 25% reduction!  After adjusting for clinical-patient efforts outside this intervention, this is equivalent to preventing 6,000 patients from suffering a heart attack, a stroke, or dying due to cardiovascular disease within the next 10 years.  This averages out to 30 patients per participating practice. 

We know this required a lot of hard work on your part.  Please let your teammates know that we are thankful for their engagement in this important public health issue.  Attached is additional information on the results.  

Our team is available to assist you with other important practice support needs including quality improvement, clinical workflow redesign, Medicaid Managed Care education and issue resolution, COVID-19 support, EHR and telehealth optimization, billing and coding, Health Information Exchange training and technical assistance, etc.  All of this is available to you at no cost to your practice. 

Again, thanks for your partnership and kudos to you for the results!  Read more about the HHN campaign and results below! 



Heart Health Now! 

A Case Study on How Practice Support Can Help Improve Quality and Save Lives 



UNC-Chapel Hill primary care researchers and collaborators including the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (NC AHEC) Program and Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) created a digital intervention using electronic health records to rank 437,556 North Carolinians at 219 primary care clinics according to cardiovascular risk, defined by the chance of heart attack, stroke or death over the next 10 years, and then help practices systematically and rapidly intervene to reduce risk of these devastating conditions among those at greatest risk. This included mobilizing the North Carolina AHEC Practice Support team to partner with individual clinics and help providers and clinic staff implement procedures to proactively screen and manage high risk patients, and reduce cardiovascular risk as quickly as possible. 



The results, published in the national publication Health Services Research, show that practices were able to reduce the average risk for these patients from a high 10-year risk of serious cardiovascular events from 23 percent to 17 percent – a 25% reduction of experiencing cardiovascular events. After adjusting for clinical-patient efforts outside this intervention, the 25 percent reduction is essentially equivalent to preventing 6,000 patients from suffering a heart attack, stroke or death due to cardiovascular disease within 10 years. This is nearly 30 patients per practice! 



This approach can extend beyond cardiovascular health. Such support can help practices with patients in need of social services support, COVID-19 prevention and testing, telehealth and EHR needs, life style and health education interventions, and prevention methods to avoid chronic illnesses (especially those prioritized and incentivized by Medicare, Medicaid and other payers) and control chronic illnesses before risks get this high. 

NC AHEC has 32 practice support coaches located at 9 regional centers across North Carolina. These coaches provide free 1:1 onsite and virtual support with strong expertise in quality improvement, clinical workflow, EHR reports, using EHR data, and using telehealth options for care and the best ways to appropriately bill for this new service. All these avenues help practices optimize chronic disease management, preventive care, and patient outcomes. Other services that coaches can provide for you include integrating the NC Health Information exchange into your practice, advanced medical home support both for Medicaid managed care and patient centered medical home recognition, and assistance with best practices regarding new managed care models for both Medicare and Medicaid. 


Download the one pager overview here



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