Atherotech offers lifestyle education for heart patients

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Atherotech, which developed the VAP Cholesterol Test, now offers personalized lifestyle education and compliance strategies at no additional cost to patients who have undergone the test.

The program, Our Healthy Heart, is a collaborative disease management effort between physicians, patients and the Birmingham, Ala.-based Atherotech, said Jennifer E. Mason, RN, vice president of clinical operations and developer of the program.

After patients' cholesterol test results are received, their cardiologist gives them a brochure with contact information about the education program. Nutritionists and other professionals—what Atherotech calls "cardiovascular risk-reduction educators" (CREs)—work one-on-one with patients creating lifestyle modification goals that include diet, exercise and compliance.

The program, introduced at ACC.10 in March, is at no additional cost to the patient. "We want to remove as many barriers to successful lifestyle modification as possible," Mason told Cardiovascular Business News.

At periodic intervals determined by their physician, patients receive another VAP test to gauge how their lifestyle changes are reflected in their cholesterol and other blood markers.

"With the development of this program, Atherotech goes from being just a diagnostic lab to being a diagnostic lab that is focused on disease management," Mason said.

Mason, who has been involved in similar programs, said that patients embrace such efforts. "Most people want to do the right things for themselves, but they are not sure where or how to start. They are more likely to succeed if they can build a support system around them," she said.

The company also is developing an online healthcare portal to better organize patient education materials as well as a secure pathway to enhance communication with patients. Cardiologists also can request notes from the CRE to put into the patient's record.

One goal of the Atherotech disease management program is to demonstrate the benefit in patient care and outcomes to insurance carriers. "If they approve getting the blood work done, we can help them save money," Mason said.