Intermountain-developed clinical support app extends life for heart failure patients

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An app designed by researchers at Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare to notify clinicians when a heart failure patient's condition has advanced helped facilitate earlier initiation of treatment and extended the lives of a group of heart failure patients, according to a study published in the Journal of Cardiac Failure.

The app works by monitoring the medical test results and the health condition of heart failure patients with implanted echocardiograms. When EKG performance indicates the patient's condition may be advancing, the app then searches medical records for other signs of a worsening condition, such as a trip to the emergency department. The app then delivers a secure email notification to the patient's provider to update them on the patient's condition and recommend therapies. The email alert also contains contact information for heart failure specialists to expedite a potential referral. 

To measure the app's effect on care outcomes, researchers monitored hundreds of heart failure patients who were provided the intervention in 2015. Outcomes among these patients were then compared to control data on outcomes of hundreds of heart failure patients treated from 2013 to 2014 who did not receive the intervention.

Survival rates were higher among the intervention group at key intervals: 30 days (95 percent compared to 92 percent), 60 days (95 percent compared to 90 percent), 90 days (94 percent compared to 87 percent) and 180 days (92 percent compared to 84 percent).

"Heart failure is progressive, and when it becomes advanced, standard therapies are no longer adequate and quality of life plummets," said R. Scott Evans, PhD, director of medical informatics at Intermountain Healthcare and the study's lead author. "But patients typically aren't monitored every day and it's hard for doctors to stay up to date on all the research regarding heart failure. Plus, no single test says the disease has progressed and often patients don't end up in advanced heart failure clinics when they should."

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