BHCG-supported grant application awarded $15.9 million to improve cardiac care in Wisconsin

In the February 2012 edition of The Catalyst we reported that several provider organizations (in Wisconsin and Florida), insurers, coalitions (including the BHCG and The Alliance) and other stakeholders submitted a grant designed to improve the delivery of cardiac care.  We are pleased to announce the grant, submitted by the American College of Cardiology Foundation, was chosen for funding in May by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) for three years for a total of $15.9 million.  The BHCG along with several other organizations, wrote a letter of support for the grant.

The initiative, known as SMARTCare, or Smarter Management and Resource Use for Today’s Complex Cardiac Care, is designed to improve the quality and efficiency of diagnosis and treatment of coronary heart disease. Ten pilot sites, five each in Florida and Wisconsin, including  two in southeast Wisconsin, will treat an estimated 35,000 patients with potential or known coronary heart disease over the course of the three-year project.  In addition to its potential to significantly improve quality of care, the initiative’s estimated three-year savings yield in Wisconsin and Florida is more than $40 million.  If the initiative were to be implemented nationally, SMARTCare would be expected to save $1.1 to $3.5 billion a year, based on 2011 CMS data.

Three physicians in Wisconsin have been leading the SMARTCare initiative for several years.  They include Tim Bartholow, the former chief medical officer for the Wisconsin Medical Society and now the chief medical officer with the WEA Trust; Tom Lewandowski, a cardiologist with ThedaCare; and Anthony DeFranco, a cardiologist with Aurora Health Care. They partnered with two cardiologists in Florida.

The goal of the initiative is improving quality, while lowering the costs of diagnosing and treating chest pain and heart disease by using new software to determine appropriate testing and surgery needs.  The SMARTCare software, utilizing practice guidelines, will be added to the electronic health record, helping to assure that the tests performed on a patient are truly necessary. Another component of the software will allow for shared decision making so patients, in conjunction with their physicians, can make the best decisions for the care they want to receive.

Quoted in a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article about the awarding of funds for the SMARTCare grant, BHCG Executive Director Dianne Kiehl stated, “We need this level of physician leadership.  Physicians can make a difference.  This is a project that demonstrates this.”

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