The Community Center: Successes and Lessons Learned

Cardiac Rehabilitation Heals More than Hearts in One Iowa Community

Clinicians know that cardiac rehabilitation can arrest or even reverse cardiovascular disease. Patients who participate in cardiac rehab have a lower risk of death from heart disease and future heart problems.

Yet cardiac rehab participation was lagging among patients with heart failure in one Iowa community. This reflects national findings: according to one 2015 study, just over 20 percent of eligible Medicare patients treated for acute heart attacks used cardiac rehab services.

So the Council Bluffs community coalition of seven hospitals, 22 skilled nursing facilities and 13 home health agencies decided to do something about it.

The Council Bluffs community began by analyzing the barriers that research has shown to contribute to low cardiac rehab participation rates. Then the team at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs stepped up to address these barriers, one by one:

Lack of physician referral. A case manager follows every heart failure patient during their hospital stay. These case managers review patient charts to ensure that patients are appropriately referred to cardiac rehab. Case managers also work with other healthcare disciplines to create a care plan for each patient after discharge, using a proprietary database that evaluates their social determinants of health that may impact recovery.

Cost. Coverage waiting periods or prior authorization requirements can delay treatment. To overcome this challenge, Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital provides coupons for patients with high insurance copayments and the uninsured. The coupons reduce the cost burden for patients so long as they continue their cardiac rehab care at a Methodist Jennie Edmundson facility.

Scarcity of programs in low-income or rural communities. The hospital opened a heart failure clinic as another opportunity to support patients. Clinic staff strive to see patients within three to five days of discharge.  A clinic health coach assists vulnerable patients, working with community health coordinators to visit patients at home. They ensure patients have transportation to appointments, access to food and medications and a safe home environment.

The efforts of Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital have paid off in the last three to four years to reduce hospital readmissions among patients with heart failure. This has encouraged the hospital team to continue to engage other departments, healthcare providers and community partners in their efforts. Area skilled nursing facilities have recently offered their support.

Join Telligen for an upcoming webinar to learn more about the Million Hearts® Cardiac Rehabilitation Change Package, or check out the many resources the Telligen cardiac health team has gathered to help increase cardiac rehab utilization at your facility. Join Telligen in our efforts to help more Americans live free of cardiovascular disease and reduce health disparities associated with cardiac health.

Telligen wants to highlight the work of your community. What is your community’s win? What are some of the lessons you have learned? Every month we will feature the work of one of our community partners. Submit your story here!

Media Contacts

Lisa Jacobs
Communications Lead

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