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Heart Health Awareness

Quality, Health Care Reform and Heart Disease
- A Message from Jack Lewin, MD, CEO, American College of Cardiology

Health system reform is imminent. If you travel anywhere in the United States you will find physician and patient satisfaction levels decreasing as a result of inconsistent quality, lack of coordinated care, and medical liability concerns. Combine these factors with 47 million uninsured Americans, and you have a system primed for reform.

With 43 percent of Medicare dollars spent on heart disease—our nation’s #1 killer—the American College of Cardiology (ACC) is taking an active role in reform efforts and working to engage patients, lawmakers, payers and the rest of the medical community in discussion around a new standard of health care reform centered on increasing access to care and ensuring patient value.

Through its “Quality First” campaign, the ACC is encouraging health care providers to act on their individual and a collective responsibility to “transform health care form the inside out.” Physicians, nurses and other care providers are on the front lines of care delivery and can best ferret out waste and unnecessary or inappropriate care and focus instead on continuous quality and outcomes improvement.

As such, the ACC is working to ensure that the following principles are a fundamental part of any health care reform effort:

- A focus on patient value
- Coordination across sources and sites of care
- Payment incentives for quality care
- Health care provider professionalism and partnership with patients
- Access to appropriate care

In addition, the ACC, through its Quality First campaign, supports quality efforts that increase transparency, focus on measurable outcomes and provide doctor accountability within care. The implementation and use of health information technology is also critical.

Over the last 60 years, the ACC has invested millions of dollars to support education, guidelines, quality improvement tools and programs, and national standards. We are considered a leader when it comes to creating clinical guidelines that are grounded in information collection and professional consensus. In addition, we have the largest national cardiovascular data registry that currently collects and reports data back to hospitals and more recently individual practices to promote quality improvement.

Because of these successful efforts, the College has much to bring to the health care reform discussion. Moving forward, we are committed to working with physicians, lawmakers, patients and other stakeholders to take quality care to the next level and move beyond process to focus on outcomes. When it comes to the health care system, quality cannot be an afterthought, but rather it can and must be imbedded in everything we do. We have a responsibility to provide care that is patient-centered, evidence-based and cost-effective. While it’s not an easy task, it is one that is necessary for the future of health care in America.

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