Health Care Consulting Group Uses AHRQ Research to Develop Cardiovascular Care Models for Women
The AHRQ Evidence Reports, Results of Systematic Review of Research on Diagnosis and Treatment of Coronary Heart Disease in Women and Diagnosis and Treatment of Coronary Heart Disease in Women: Systematic Reviews of Evidence on Selected Topics, had a significant impact on Making a Difference: Heart to Heart, a health care consulting group.
Heart to Heart used the two volumes of the evidence report to assist other health care organizations develop gender-specific cardiovascular service lines of care for women.
Stephanie S. Supple, RN, President of Heart to Heart, notes that the AHRQ evidence report series was critical in developing clinical, business opportunity, and research grant models for other health care organizations. These other organizations included large cardiology practices, hospitals, health systems, and sites designated as women's centers of excellence by the Office of Women's Health.
"The [evidence] reports tell them everything they need to know. It's already done for you, and it's done beautifully. So whatever they're building, whether it's a clinical model, business model, or a research model, they're building it on those empirical papers. Before the papers came out, you could collect information but it was all over the place. With the evidence reports it's all condensed," Supple says.
In addition to providing a roadmap for organizations to develop gender-specific cardiovascular lines of care for women, the evidence reports assisted in contributing to a renewed emphasis on the need for gender-specific studies and reporting of outcomes.
In the absence of this AHRQ evidence report series, Caroline R. Norman, MD, CEO of Heart to Heart, noted that organizations would be overwhelmed trying to figure out how to generate a gender-based research program at their institutions. According to Norman, "They don't even understand how to start to make that happen; and then they review Reports 80 and 81, and they say, 'Wow, we can do this.'"
Before the AHRQ evidence reports were published, Norman explains that most people did not look at the issue of gender with heart disease. "When a study came out about a certain drug or device, it never even occurred to me to ask how many men and how many women were in the study, or whether they analyzed the results by gender."
Norman continues, "We know there's a difference in what occurs by gender. And when you give that substantiation to the client, it drives them to look at their data by gender. The evidence reports get people to start thinking in a different way, that we need research to be gender-based, and we can do it."
In addition, Norman notes that "the methodology of the evidence reports was the soundest I have come across in years. They reviewed the entire literature on the subject-15 to 20 years' worth of literature, and the work was done by top-level scientists extremely well-trained in how to approach a subject like this and put it together in the appropriate fashion. To me, this is the way it should be done." Norman further explains that her organization is "making sure that the evidence reports are distributed to active users who see patients on a daily basis-not just policy wonks, but those who are in the trenches.We are actually putting the [evidence] reports in their hands and expressing the importance and the impact that these reports can have in starting them down the right path."
Making a Difference: Heart to Heart, based in Lafayette, Louisiana, is a private consulting group focusing on women's cardiovascular health. Heart to Heart offers extensive consulting expertise to help institutions define program goals tailored to their community needs, and to create and implement "bricks and mortar" women's cardiovascular centers.