The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a cooperative team of health-care and quality improvement experts have been awarded a $15M federal grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The funding will help primary-care practices use the latest evidence to improve the heart health of millions of Americans.
[Photo: UNC will use an AHRQ grant award to help independent primary care physicians improve cardiovascular care for their patients by providing consultation, e-health record support and other services usually unavailable to smaller medical practices. Photo courtesy of UI Health Photography Library]
Dr. Sam Cykert, professor of medicine in UNC’s School of Medicine and director of UNC’s Program on Health and Clinical Informatics, is principal investigator for the project, and Dr. Bryan Weiner, professor of health policy and management at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and deputy director for research at UNC’s Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, is co-investigator.
The UNC effort, called “Heart Health Now! Advancing Heart Health in N.C. Primary Care,” is one of seven grants awarded as part of the AHRQ initiative, EvidenceNOW – Advancing Heart Health in Primary Care. That initiative supports the broad U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) program for Better Care, Smarter Spending and Healthier People and is aligned with the Department’s Million Hearts® national initiative to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
“Heart Health Now!” is based at UNC’s Cecil B. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, in partnership with the N.C. Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program’s Practice Support Services, the UNC School of Medicine, and Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) and its family of Informatics Services. AHEC and CCNC already have built a standard of success in these areas.
“The goal of the EvidenceNOW initiative is to give primary care practices the support they need to help patients live healthier and longer,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. 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.”
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. In North Carolina, the latest data show an annual cardiovascular death rate of 263 per 100,000, a higher death rate than by any other cause and amounting to almost one-third of deaths in the state.