Monday, May 12, 2014

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a pharmacy and family medicine professor $10.1 million to expand the scope of a cardiovascular disease care model.

Professor Barry Carter, PharmD, received a five-year grant from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to bring a pharmacist-run centralized cardiovascular risk service to typical physicians’ offices.

Your cardiovascular system includes your heart, blood, and blood vessels. One American dies every 39 seconds from cardiovascular disease – often due to a stroke or heart attack. Yet if someone knows they have cardiovascular disease, he or she can often extend their life through medication therapy and lifestyle changes.

When pharmacists work with primary care physicians, such life-extending practices are more likely to be used, research suggests. Patients’ risk factors are more likely to be kept under control: Medical practitioners more closely follow recommended medication guidelines, and patients more often do their part to keep the disease from progressing.

There is clear evidence that patients’ risk of death from cardiovascular disease has been improved within integrated health systems – meaning groups of offices with or without hospitals that have complete access to patient data. But many typical primary doctors’ offices are unable to provide the intense communication and follow-up needed for patients with multiple cardiovascular conditions. Those offices are the starting point for Carter’s new research project, which will evaluate an efficient, centralized, web-based cardiovascular risk service to support primary care providers.

“Research is suggesting that if all medical offices in this country that currently work with clinical pharmacists used this care model for their cardiovascular patients, there would be up to 30 percent fewer coronary deaths and up to 40 percent fewer stroke deaths per year,” said Carter. “Needless deaths can be prevented with pharmacist-run, team-based risk factor management.”

The project is called, “MEDication Focused Outpatient Care for Underutilization of Secondary Prevention”, or MED-FOCUS. Although each MED-FOCUS office already employs their own clinical pharmacist, two UI-based clinical pharmacists – Christopher Parker, PharmD, and Tyler Gums, PharmD – will work with pharmacists and patients around the country to run the study intervention, via the web and/or telephone. Up to 20U.S. primary care offices will participate in the study, with patient enrollment anticipated to be 400.

Iowa offices include Genesis Family Medical Center in Davenport, Northeast Iowa Family Practice Center in Waterloo, and Siouxland Family Medicine Center in Sioux City.

If the study is successful, it could be more broadly adopted by health systems throughout the nation. 

Carter is an internationally-recognized expert and pioneer in pharmacist-physician collaboration in hypertension research and treatment. He is the Patrick E. Keefe Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science in the College of Pharmacy, and professor in the Department of Family Medicine in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.