Q/A: New certification available for MI prevention/early detection specialist

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Physicians and providers interested in coronary artery disease (CAD) screening can now become certified as heart attack prevention/early detection specialists through an Internet-based education program.

The certification program is a joint effort between the Society for Heart Attack Prevention and Eradication (SHAPE) and J&J Medical, a company focused on cost-effective growth solutions in the disease prevention arerna.

Cardiovascular Business News asked Jeffrey Fine, PhD, president and CEO of the Columbia, S.C.-based J&J Medical, to discuss the certification program.

Q. Is there anything else similar to this program?

A. There are no other programs available, to the best of our knowledge, that allow physicians, mid-level providers and nurses to obtain certification as a heart attack prevention/early detection specialist. The SHAPE Society has established itself through research, ongoing educational efforts and published clinical contributions as a national authority on early detection of CAD and heart attack prevention.

Q. Why is SHAPE so important in the context of today’s healthcare reform?

A. The goals of SHAPE, and certainly of this certification program, include the reduction of heart attacks and sudden cardiac death through education. Providing educational programs to both specialists and the primary-care community allows medical providers to more appropriately identify and refer patients for CAD screening and better manage these patients following CAD screening to improve patient outcomes. The goals of reducing the impact of chronic disease through early detection, as well as reducing healthcare expenditures via lower cost testing, dovetail nicely with current healthcare reform initiatives.

Q. What benefits do you see from being SHAPE certified?

A. The most lasting benefit of participating in this certification program is knowledge. This is a series of educational modules that provide the latest research and paradigms for selecting appropriately indicated patients who benefit most from screening and how to use learned results to better manage a patient’s overall cardiovascular health.

Additionally, providers earning SHAPE certification, like any advanced training, will have increased local and national notoriety and expertise that distinguishes them among their peers, community and patients.

Q. How does a physician or non-physician provider become SHAPE certified?

A. Interested providers view the Internet-based video modules (eight total, approximately 20 minutes each) at their convenience. When they have finished the educational modules, they complete an online exam and submit for certification through SHAPE as a “Heart Attack Prevention/Early Detection Certified Specialist.” The program is AMA Category I CME approved. The SHAPE Certification program and more information can be found here.

Q. It seems that the overall economic benefit of SHAPE, in terms saving U.S. healthcare dollars, is long term. Hospitals make money treating diseases not preventing them. What can you say about that outlook that some may have?

A. This is outdated thinking and not a sustainable reality either clinically or economically. Clearly, we have moved into a new era in cardiovascular healthcare, and, appropriately, the reduction of acute events and out-of-hospital mortality is at the forefront of the new paradigm. Those who adapt and acquire education about evolving approaches to better manage their patients will flourish.

Early CAD detection is not only the right thing to do clinically and ethically, but is also an emerging business development tool. Data suggests that nearly 60 percent of appropriately indicated patients for coronary artery calcium scoring will have asymptomatic CAD. To the provider and the hospital, this provides an opportunity to not only slow or regress disease, but also medically manage these patients from an earlier age and for an extended period of time.

Acute event revenue will likely decline as this disease is better identified and managed, however, economic offsets such as diagnostic testing, medical management, screening and interventional procedures will increase.