National Health IT Week: Why Interoperability Matters

1_Tcheng_photo1This post was authored by James E. Tcheng, MD, FACC, chair of the ACC’s Informatics and Health Information Technology Task Force.

National Health IT Week, Oct. 5-9, is an opportunity to discuss how advancing the adoption and use of health information technology (IT) can help improve patient care. Comprehensive health care reform is not possible without system-wide adoption of health IT. Health IT potentially improves the quality of health care delivery, increases patient safety, decreases medical errors and strengthens the interaction between patients and health care providers.

As part of its dedication to health IT, the ACC is working to advance health informatics, a growing field of health care about all things having to do with data and information flowing through the health care ecosystem. One of ACC’s primary health informatics priorities is promoting and advocating for data standards and interoperability across the health care spectrum. Continue reading

Running After a Scarce Commodity: Is it Time to Think Outside the Box?

Gilotra headshotThis article was authored by Nisha A. Gilotra, MD, a fellow in training (FIT) at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and an editorial fellow for the FIT Section page on

It’s 3:30 in the morning. The crew slowly gathers on the hospital lobby couches, sleepy-eyed and clad in matching cobalt blue pajamas. It’s too early even for coffee, much less conversation. A black SUV pulls up and everyone knows to stand. I follow, eager and anxious – eager for my patient who has been living in the hospital for the last three months, yet anxious about the upcoming experience.

We are going on a donor run; we are going to get a new heart for my patient. Continue reading

Defining Optimal Governance: A Key Priority for ACC’s BOT

The ACC has experienced significant growth and change over the last decade. Much of this growth has come in response to changes in the health care environment, as well as changes to member demographics. Currently the College’s membership stands at 49,000 domestic and international members, with more than 80 state and international chapters, in addition to more than 420 staff and an over $120 million dollar annual operating budget. Further, the trend toward hospital integration for a majority of ACC’s members has required us to change and tailor our products and services to meet the different needs of members in these institutional environments.   Continue reading

ACC Celebrates World Heart Day With Healthy Heart Choices

This post was authored by John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, past president of the ACC, and Gerard Martin, MD, FACC, chair of the Population Health Policy and Health Promotion Committee.

On Sept. 29, we celebrate World Heart Day, a global initiative created by the World Heart Federation to better educate citizens about the prevalence of cardiovascular disease. This year focuses on healthy heart choices for everyone, everywhere.

As such, it is fitting that a bold new global agenda to end poverty by 2030 and pursue a sustainable future was recently adopted by the 193 Member States of the United Nations (UN) at the start of the three-day Summit in New York City on Sustainable Development. The Sustainable Development Goals were approved unanimously on Sept. 25, and made the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – including cardiovascular disease – a top sustainable development priority. This includes the target of reducing premature mortality from NCDs by one third by the year 2030. Continue reading

ACC Think Tank Brings Together Experts to Discuss Combination Therapy and ASCVD Risk Reduction

Christie M. Ballantyne_HeadshotKim_Birtcher_HeadshotThis post was authored by Christie M. Ballantyne, MD, FACC, chair and moderator of the ACC’s LDL: Address the Risk Think Tank, and Kim Birtcher, MS, PharmD, AACC, chair of the ACC’s LDL: Address the Risk Oversight Workgroup.

In view of recent evidence of the benefit of non-statin therapy and the emergence of PCSK9 inhibitors, clinicians are faced with a number of important issues when considering combination therapy in high-risk patients. To address these issues, representatives from medical specialty societies and other stakeholder groups attended the LDL: Address the Risk Think Tank this week, at ACC’s headquarters. Continue reading

ACC Response to ABIM Report on Vision For Certification and MOC Programs in 2020

The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) today released a report entitled “A Vision for Certification in Internal Medicine in 2020,” that was drafted to inform the reshaping of ABIM’s Certification and Maintenance of Certification (MOC) programs. The report, developed by the Assessment 2020 Task Force which assembled in 2013, aims to “develop a vision for the future of assessment in internal medicine and associated subspecialties”  and to “stimulate discussion” around the future of certification.

According to Task Force Chair Harlan Krumholz, MD, SM, FACC, “the group sought to envision what the future could be and considered that what is possible tomorrow may be very different from what can be done today.” With that in mind, the report includes three key recommendations that are similar to those being proposed by the ACC on behalf of its members, as well as the rest of the internal medicine community. Specifically, the report proposes to: 1) replace the 10-year MOC exam with more frequent, less burdensome assessments; 2) focus assessments on cognitive and technical skills; and 3) recognize specialization. Read the full report here. Continue reading

Sports Cardiology 101: The Porta Potty

Aaron.Baggish.MD.PhotoThis post was authored by Aaron L. Baggish, MD, FACC, member of ACC’s Sports and Exercise Cardiology Section Leadership Council.

 Providing competent cardiovascular care to athletes requires two basic skill sets. The first skill set, clinical expertise in cardiovascular medicine, is unambiguous and easy to define. By way of mandatory training requirements and completion of subspecialty boards, one cannot practice sports cardiology without being a licensed and board certified cardiologist. The second skill set is a bit less clear and boils down to understanding our patients as athletes and not just as cardiac patients. The importance of “knowing” a specific population is not unique to sports cardiology. No one disputes that patients are best served when barriers imposed by language, religious affiliation and cultural practices are both understood and addressed by care providers. Some even argue that clinicians are most effective in caring for their own. Continue reading

Landmark NIH Study Finds Intensive BP Management May Save Lives

More intensive management of high blood pressure (BP) may significantly reduce the rates of cardiovascular disease as well as the risk of death in patients 50 years and older with high BP, according to results of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) released Sept. 11 by the National Institutes of Health.

In the trial, researchers examined over 9,300 patients aged 50 years or older with systolic blood pressure (SBP) ≥130 mm Hg and at least one additional cardiovascular disease risk factor in about 100 sites across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Between 2010 and 2013, participants were randomized into two groups that differed according to targeted levels of BP control. The standard group received blood pressure medications to achieve a target of less than 140 mm Hg and an average of two different blood pressure medications. The intensive treatment group received medications to achieve a target of less than 120 mm Hg and received an average of three medications. Primary outcomes were myocardial infarction (MI), acute coronary syndrome, stroke, heart failure, or cardiovascular disease death. Continue reading

A Call to Action: Pediatric Cardiac Care and the Global Health Agenda

Jenkins_KathyThis post was authored by Kathy Jenkins, MD, MPH, FACC, immediate past chair of the ACC’s Adult Congenital and Pediatric Cardiology Section; professor of pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; senior vice president and chief safety and quality officer, Boston Children’s Hospital; and Children’s HeartLink International Advisory Board Member.

The time is right to improve access to treatment of congenital heart disease (CHD) for children in underserved parts of the world. In May, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution on surgical care and anesthesia as a component of universal health coverage. Surgery for birth defects was included in this resolution. (For more on this topic, read the blog World Health Assembly: A Time For Renewed Commitment to Reducing NCDs.) Continue reading