Heart failure is estimated to be the fourth leading cause of cardiovascular death in the United States and can be incredibly costly for hospitals and health systems due to its high readmission rate. As such, we decided to focus our latest best practice report on heart failure, covering four main aspects of care: identification, treatment, follow-up, and rehabilitation. For a sneak peak, we’ve provided four key strategies below that are included in the report’s treatment section.
Implement a Care Transitions Team
Because heart failure is often accompanied by numerous comorbidities, its management and treatment can be quite challenging. Multidisciplinary teams, especially those that are focused on care transitions, are optimal for managing the treatment of the condition. Northwestern Medicine, for example, established a heart failure bridge and transition (BAT) team that first focuses on determining the underlying causes of the condition in the inpatient setting and prescribing appropriate medications per clinical practice recommendations. The BAT team then educates patients about heart failure and constantly follows up with them post-discharge to smooth their transition to other facilities or to home.
Build a Continuum of Care Committee
Effective care coordination and standardized treatment across inpatient and outpatient settings helps ensure better heart failure outcomes. Realizing the need, Atrium Health created a heart failure continuum of care committee that consists of staff from cardiology, quality, nursing, palliative care, primary care, multihospital groups, and other areas. As part of this committee, every team member applies their specialized training and knowledge to ensure treatment complies with guideline-based best practices, make educational materials, and develop tools and pathways to standardize care throughout the system.
Create Heart Failure Order Sets
Treatment for heart failure spans from medication administration to monitoring and is often complex. To simplify and standardize treatment, organizations—like Atrium Health—have developed order sets, which not only standardize the treatment process among staff but also help inpatient providers coordinate effectively with outpatient facilities. These order sets are created based on best practice literature and also cover patient self-management, education, diet, and medication administration.
Provide Appropriate Pharmacological Treatment
With everchanging treatment strategies, it is important for hospitals to stay up to date with guideline-directed pharmacological therapy. Recently, hospitals have started to prescribe newly FDA-approved drugs like Entresto® ─ an angiotensin receptor–neprilysin inhibitor—which has been shown to reduce mortality in various clinical studies. While staying informed is one part of the medication management process, patients’ medication adherence is another. Various hospitals have taken measures to enhance adherence by having pharmacists conduct daily rounds to educate patients on self-managing their conditions and ways to prevent their symptoms from worsening.
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