East Alabama Medical Center TAKEheart Profile
"For EAMC, TAKEheart served as a catalyst to improve processes and refine elements of our automatic referral and care coordination systems, which will ultimately improve patient outcomes."
CR Challenges at East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC)
East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC), located in Opelika, Ala., is a full-service hospital serving an 11-county area with 314 general, acute care beds. Kathe Briggs, MS, ACSM-CEP, FAACVPR, is the Manager of Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation at EAMC. She served as the center's champion for TAKEheart.
When joining TAKEheart in 2021, EAMC already had automatic referral to CR in place in its electronic health record (EHR). Briggs has always had broad support from EAMC's cardiothoracic (CT) surgeons. For several years, EAMC's CR team has met with patients to discuss the importance of CR, both before and after their cardiac procedure. The CT surgeons have offices located on campus, giving Briggs's team ready access to patients and an opportunity to inform, educate, and recruit them for CR.
Although EAMC's CR completion rate for enrolled patients has been strong, Briggs suspected there were areas that could be improved that would further increase the referral and enrollment numbers. In particular, patients with heart failure had been difficult to engage.
Championing Improvement Through Participation in TAKEheart
The TAKEheart quality improvement initiative provided the structure and guidance that Briggs' team needed to expand CR services. The team used workflow-process mapping to identify the situations where CR processes were not firmly established to learn where patients were falling through the cracks. The team also learned strategies for effective care coordination from other hospitals and accessed new tools for reaching patients who had previously been challenging to enroll. The team followed TAKEheart's recommendation to focus on data, which helped them identify areas needing improvement and gain credibility for their efforts to strengthen processes and close gaps. In following up on the TAKEheart recommendations, the EAMC team modified its order sets to more accurately identify eligible patients. Screening became more efficient as ineligible patients were excluded and eligible patients were more routinely referred to CR.
EAMC looks forward to continuing to build on its successes as it strives to meet the AACVPR goal of enrolling 70% of eligible patients into its CR program.