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Virginia Mason Selected by Medicare to Test New Approach for Managing Heart Disease
Christopher Fellows, MD
Christopher Fellows, MD

SEATTLE – (July 22, 2016) – Virginia Mason is among 516 health systems and physician practices selected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to participate in a national pilot program designed to change the way providers manage cardiovascular disease to prevent heart attack and stroke.

“We are honored to have been chosen by CMS to participate in this important initiative to further improve quality of care, clinical outcomes and patient experience,” said Christopher Fellows, MD, section head for cardiology at Virginia Mason.

Overall, nearly 20,000 health care practitioners and more than 3.3 million Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries will participate in the five-year effort, called the Million Hearts® Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduction Model.

Health care practitioners in the intervention group will work with beneficiaries individually to identify the best approach or approaches to reducing their risk of having a heart attack or stroke – for example, smoking cessation interventions, blood pressure management, or cholesterol-lowering drugs or aspirin – and will explain the benefits of each approach.

Each beneficiary will receive a personalized risk modification plan that will target their specific risk factors. Organizations in the intervention group will be paid for reducing the risk for heart disease or stroke among their high-risk beneficiaries, CMS announced July 21.

“Our health care system historically often emphasized acute care over preventive care,” Patrick Conway, MD, CMS acting principal deputy administrator and chief medical officer, said in a statement. “This initiative will enhance patient-centered care and give practitioners the resources to invest the time and in staff to address and manage patients who are at high risk for heart attacks and strokes.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death and a major contributor to disability in the United States. One in three deaths are caused by heart attacks and strokes, resulting in more than $300 billion of health care costs each year. CMS and the CDC are working together to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

Currently, health care practitioners are paid to screen for blood pressure, cholesterol or other risk factors individually. In testing a new approach, practitioners participating in the Million Hearts® Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduction Model’s intervention group will use a data-driven, widely accepted predictive modeling approach to generate personalized risk scores and develop specific plans in partnership with patients to reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

About Virginia Mason Health System Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system based in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. In the Puget Sound region, the system includes 336-bed Virginia Mason Hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 500 physicians; regional medical centers in Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Bellevue, Federal Way, Kirkland, Issaquah and Lynnwood; Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS; Benaroya Research Institute, which is internationally recognized for autoimmune disease research; and Virginia Mason Institute, which trains health care professionals and others from around the world in the Virginia Mason Production System, an innovative management methodology for continually improving quality, safety and efficiency. Virginia Mason online: VirginiaMason.org

Virginia Mason Health System also includes Yakima-based Memorial Family of Services and Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, a 226-bed facility serving the Yakima Valley in Central Washington since 1950. Memorial Family of Services comprises primary care practices and specialty care services, including high quality cardiac care, a continuum of cancer care, hospice care, and advanced services for children with special health care needs. Memorial online: YakimaMemorial.org

Media Contact:
Gale Robinette
Media Relations Manager
Virginia Mason Health System
(206) 341-1509
gale.robinette@VirginiaMason.org