Partnership uses data linkage to improve cardiac, diabetes care

In the fight against heart disease and diabetes, it’s time to start working together. That’s what a collaboration between the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the American College of Physicians (ACP) and the Joslin Diabetes Center intends to do by opening up the cross-specialty dialogue, its leaders told Cardiovascular Business.

Heart disease and diabetes are intrinsically linked. Many diabetes patients develop heart disease. Both are complicated diseases, each made more complex by the other. Approximately 26 million Americans are living with diabetes today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2011, 20 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes and 36 percent were living with stroke or heart disease. Today that number also has grown.

With that in mind, this collaboration brings together two disparate databases to allow clinicians the ability to cross-check their patients—and themselves—to ensure an overall better standard of care for their patients. This is the first time these major healthcare players have come together.

“We are looking to leverage the successes of the American College of Cardiology and the PINNACLE database,” John L. Brooks III, president and CEO of the Joslin Diabetes Center, said in an interview with Cardiovascular Business. “We need to be more proactive in helping people with diabetes and this will provide us with a key tool for delivering great solutions, keeping people with diabetes at home and at work and productive, keeping them out of the emergency room.”

The ADA, using the ACC’s PINNACLE architecture and example, will build a database called the Collaborative Diabetes Registry. The registry will allow participating clinicians to access a host of diabetes information about their patients and will cross-reference the PINNACLE database. Through the PINNACLE portal, clinicians will access relevant heart disease data. In addition, providers and practices participating in the registry will be given monthly reports on their performance measures, which will be provided against a national benchmark.

According to Brooks, Joslin will leverage the 40 clinics nationwide that already are affiliated with them. These partners will provide initial sites for roll out. The ACP also will market the registry to clinicians to become part of the registry and expand the scope of the data available. All partners in this collaboration are looking toward developing as rich a database as possible with maximum outreach. As more data and analytics are made available, clinicians will have a better understanding of diabetes epidemic and its relationship to heart disease and better tools to provide care.

When speaking with Cardiovascular Business, William J. Oetgen, MD, MBA, ACC executive vice president of science, quality and education, discussed the need to work collaboratively to improve patient care and outcomes. “The American College of Cardiology has recognized the importance of diabetes in the genesis of heart disease. It has major cardiovascular implications.”

Oetgen said that they are looking to have data available by September at the earliest.

Participation in the registry will be free. Since the registry will act as an add-on to existing EHR systems, participating clinicians and offices will need to have an EHR in place. They then will be able to query and retrieve up to 25 EHRs at a time.

“Since this is based on PINNACLE,” Oetgen said, “the only barrier we foresee is the time constraint for allowing the software to be integrated with each office’s electronic records. It takes some IT/office manager time, but we’ve steadily decreased the amount of time and effort from months to a few weeks with no site visit. It should be a seamless transition for providers.”

Reports from the database will be automatically generated and provide clinicians a better view of their best practices. In time there is hope that the Diabetes Collaborative Registry may also include data on prediabetics and their risks for developing heart disease.

AstraZeneca will be part of this collaboration, providing funding and having a seat on the advisory board, but company representatives will not be involved directly in the data or the questions being asked.

For more on collaborations between cardiologists and diabetes specialists, please read “One-stop Shop: Clinics that Treat Heart Disease, Diabetes in Tandem.”