Artwork from the AHRQ grantee kickoff meeting

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has funded the MacColl Center for three years to lead one of seven regional partnerships throughout the nation both to improve heart health among patients in primary care practices and to increase the capability of these practices to improve the quality of care they deliver. It builds on the goal of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Million Hearts® initiative, which aims to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes nationwide by 2017.

With partners Qualis Health, the Oregon Rural Practice Research Network (ORPRN) at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), and the Institute of Translational Health Sciences, on May 1 our team started inviting small- and medium-sized primary-care practices in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho to participate in Healthy Hearts Northwest: Improving Practice Together. Of the 320 practices to be enrolled, 150 will be in Washington, 130 in Oregon, and 40 in Idaho.

Clinics that participate will receive at least 15 months of practice support, technical assistance for health information technology, coaching in quality improvement, and chances to participate in workshops to build QI competencies. The project will use practice facilitation, the IHI improvement model, and data management to improve patients’ measures of heart health.

“Healthy Hearts Northwest is an unprecedented opportunity for primary care to prove to the nation that we can make a difference in cardiovascular health at a scale never before tested,” said the principal investigator of Health Hearts Northwest, Michael Parchman. “Practices that participate will receive resources, support, and a ‘roadmap’ to build their capacity to really do quality improvement well.”

Physicians that are Board Certified by the American Board of Family Medicine or one of 20 of the 24 American Board of Medical Specialties Member Boards may now receive maintenance of certification (MOC) credit for participating in Healthy Hearts Northwest.

MacColl is the recipient of the $13.7 million grant, and will coordinate all project-related activities, including collecting information for evaluation and reporting results.  Our team will co-develop activities including enrolling practices, training practice coaches, monthly learning webinars, and outreach visits by academic experts. MacColl, Qualis Health, and OHSU’s Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network all have in common that we are leaders in transforming primary care, with expertise in the medical home, coordinating care, primary care team, and health IT.

Healthy Hearts Northwest is part of EvidenceNOW: Advancing Heart Health in Primary Care, the AHRQ grant initiative to transform health care delivery. On May 26, 2015 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced awards of $112 million to regional cooperatives to work with about 5,000 primary care professionals in 12 states to improve the heart health of their nearly 8 million patients. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. EvidenceNOW: Advancing Heart Health in Primary Care will help primary care practices in both urban and rural communities use the latest evidence to encourage efforts for Better Care, Smarter Spending, and Healthier People. Today’s awards are aligned with the Department’s and Million Hearts® national initiative to prevent heart attacks and stroke.

The EvidenceNOW initiative establishes seven regional cooperatives composed of multidisciplinary teams of experts that will each provide quality improvement services to up to 300 small primary care practices. These services include onsite coaching, consultation from experts in health care delivery improvement, sharing best practices, and electronic health record support. This initiative will help small primary care practices incorporate the most recent evidence on how best to deliver the ABCs of cardiovascular prevention into their patients’ care:

  • Aspirin use by high-risk individuals,
  • Blood pressure control,
  • Cholesterol management, and
  • Smoking cessation.

“The goal of the EvidenceNOW initiative is to give primary care practices the support they need to help patients live healthier and longer,” said Secretary Burwell. “By targeting smaller practices, we have a unique opportunity to reduce cardiovascular risk factors for hundreds of thousands of patients, and learn what kind of support results in better patient outcomes.”

Healthy Hearts Northwest:  Improving Practice Together is supported by AHRQ grant number R18HS023908.