Helping Advanced Heart Failure Patients

More than six million Americans have heart failure which means their heart has failed to adequately pump blood. This results in symptoms which include fatigue, shortness of breath, swelling, and a fast or erratic heartbeat.

A clinical decision support app developed by Intermountain Healthcare researchers can now identify when heart failure has advanced and the care needed when the heart patient’s condition changes. The new app monitors heart failure patients’ medical tests and health status and if there is a change notifies clinicians.

Frustrated by seeing heart failure patients weeks or even months after their symptoms have progressed, cardiovascular specialists from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute teamed up with technology experts to create a computer program that would monitor heart failure patients to determine when they need advanced care.

First, the computer identifies heart failure patients in the Intermountain Healthcare’s Salt Lake County community. The computer first identifies patients with new echocardiograms that show a left ventricular ejection fraction of less than 35 percent which is the cut off that indicates that a patient’s condition is deteriorating.

The computer app then begins to monitor their medical record for relevant signs of progressions, such as visits to the hospital or emergency department, lab tests, use of diuretics, technological assistance needed such as left ventricular support, data from EKGs, and more.

When the computer monitors and indicates that a patient likely has advanced heart failure, the mined data is then applied to the algorithms, and at this point, the app automatically sends an email with all of the information to the patient’s doctors.

The email includes the recommended therapy and all the relevant information that triggered the alert, and provides a link to a secure Intermountain web-based page for further information. The email also lists phone numbers and links to doctors that can easily connect the patient with advanced heart failure specialists.

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