Mathematica has released positive evaluation findings from Year 2 of the Million Hearts® model, just in time for American Heart Month this February. In this randomized controlled trial, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is testing whether it can improve cardiovascular care and prevent first-time heart attacks and strokes by paying providers for measuring and reducing cardiovascular risks among their Medicare patients. Seventy-five percent of providers in the intervention group reported that calculating cardiovascular risk scores helps them identify at-risk patients, leading to improvements in the quality of prevention care provided. The model also showed promising health outcomes in Year 2, such as decreases in cardiovascular risk scores and, relative to a control group, a 7 percent decrease in all-cause mortality. A findings-at-a-glance document and full report summarize the research.
“Overall, the findings to date indicate that the model has had positive impacts on cardiovascular disease care processes along the lines envisioned,” said Greg Peterson, project director. “As we continue this project, we will study how organizations implement the model and whether the early improvements in cardiovascular care translate into fewer heart attacks and strokes, and lower Medicare spending over the five-year trial.”
In addition to the improvements noted for risk scores and mortality, Mathematica—along with partners at the RAND Corporation and University of Colorado—also reported that the model substantially increased how frequently providers assessed cardiovascular risk among their patients and how often eligible patients use statins or antihypertensive medications to help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, or both.