Student Heart Failure Intervention Pilot (SHIP): A Study of Risk Factor Analytics and Population Outreach
Background: Heart failure (HF), the leading cause of hospitalization in adults over the age of 65, is a difficult-to-treat syndrome associated with high morbidity and mortality. Home-monitoring programs may help reduce HF-associated morbidity, but can be difficult to establish in smaller clinical settings. In this quality improvement project, we identified local patients at high risk of HF-related morbidity and hospitalizations, then implemented a medical student-based constant-contact program to encourage their follow-through on self-care.
Methods: Between June 2012 and September 2014, our clinic treated 197 patients for systolic or diastolic HF. These patients’ baseline characteristics were evaluated for trends that increased their risk for hospitalization. Of the high-risk patients identified (n=80), 12 (15%) were enrolled in the project. An 8-week constant-contact intervention was initiated through weekly calls. Patients’ health statuses were recorded and the importance of self-care was reiterated.
Results: High-risk HF patients were identified based on >10 clinic visits during the study period; 3 were lost to follow-up. Each patient completed two questionnaires at the study’s beginning and conclusion, with response rates of 67% (6/9) and 56% (5/9). Most participants reported symptom improvement and increased knowledge about their conditions.
Conclusion: Our preliminary population-guided, medical-student initiated intervention in a small clinical setting was designed to increase patient understanding and compliance and to improve HF symptoms. Although the study was limited by its low participation rate, drastic improvements in self-reported outcomes were noted among participants. A larger study with similar positive outcomes could ultimately influence follow-up methods.
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