Change of Heart: Online Assessment Reaches Patients Before They Enter ER

Cynthia Johnson , September 28, 2009

Luscato says the assessment offered her an opportunity to speak with a nurse for about 20 minutes regarding her risk factors and what she can do to make changes that will reduce them, such as lowering her weight. The free heart scan she received revealed that her arteries and aorta were in good health. The news provided her with much reassurance that she is on the right path to improving her cardiovascular health, especially considering that her mother suffered from heart disease.

"I accepted this as good news and I conduct my everyday life the way I always have," she says. "I exercise, I bike, I play tennis. I do various things that contribute to my health and that was proven during the test."

She says she came away from the experience knowing what her direction and goals need to be, specifically in terms of losing weight. "Will I achieve my goals in a month?" she asks. "No, the weight didn't come on in a month. I know it will take perseverance."

Bufalino states that some of the patients who have taken the assessment have undergone bypass surgeries and stents as a result of the screening. Others have started receiving treatment to prevent future problems. The hospital plans to follow up with patients to determine how many are coming into the system and receiving care as a result of the assessment.

Edward has marketed HeartAware on television, in direct mailings, and through their offices. HeartAware helps facilities produce advertisements and word their message, but does not place advertising and media spots for them.

Luscato is doing her own small part to spread the word. She hosts a local cable show in her community and discussed the program on the air. As part of the program, she took the assessment and was impressed that she got back results within five minutes of clicking Submit.

The hospital has no plans to pull the plug on the program any time soon. "Interest in the program sure hasn't stopped yet, so I think they're going to run with it for a while," says Bufalino. "It makes the community feel that their healthcare organization cares about what's going on in the community."

HeartAware continues to learn, grow
Gossett says there is no comparison between the HeartAware tool and the online risk assessments that consumers can take through Web sites like "Those are a commodity, in my opinion," he says. According to Gossett the strength of the program lies in how the company has learned and continues to learn from the hospitals that implement it.

"If you take one of Barak Obama's recent quotes, he said we need to identify best practices, learn from them, and replicate them," says Gossett. "That's what we do. That's our role in this equation, to share best practices."

The company has plans to branch out in the future and offer risk assessments on other health-related topics such as various forms of cancer, weight loss, spine health, and joint pain, but the programs are still in their infancy.

"We believe that the process of stratifying the vulnerable individual and giving them educating resources is a benefit to the community," he says. "Our intention is to really promote early detection and prevention."

Cynthia Johnson is the editor of Medicine On The 'Net, a monthly newsletter from HealthLeaders Media.
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