Effect of the Million Hearts Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduction Model on Initiating and Intensifying Medications

Effect of the Million Hearts Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduction Model on Initiating and Intensifying Medications

A Prespecified Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial
Published: Jun 02, 2021
Publisher: JAMA Cardiology (online ahead of print)
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Authors

Jia Pu

David J. Magid

Michael Barna

Adam Rose

Amanda Markovitz

Patricia Markovich

Million Hearts

Importance

The Million Hearts Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Risk Reduction Model pays provider organizations for measuring and reducing Medicare patients’ cardiovascular risk.

Objective

To assess whether the model increases the initiation or intensification of antihypertensive medications or statins among patients with blood pressure or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels above guideline thresholds for treatment intensification.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This prespecified secondary analysis of a cluster-randomized, pragmatic trial included primary care and cardiology practices, health care centers, and hospital-based outpatient departments across the US. Participants included Medicare patients who were enrolled into the model in 2017 by participating organizations and who were at high risk and at medium risk of a myocardial infarction or stroke in 10 years. Patient outcomes were analyzed for 1 year postenrollment (through December 2018) using an intent-to-treat design. Analysis began November 2019.

Interventions

US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services paid organizations for risk stratifying Medicare patients and reducing CVD risk among high-risk patients through discussing risk scores, developing individualized risk reduction plans, and following up with patients twice yearly.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Initiating or intensifying statin or antihypertensive therapy within 1 year of enrollment, measured in Medicare Part D claims, and LDL cholesterol and systolic blood pressure levels approximately 1 year after enrollment, measured in usual care and reported to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services via a data registry (data complete for 51% of high-risk enrollees). The study’s primary outcome (incidence of first-time myocardial infarction and stroke) is not reported because the trial is ongoing.

Results

A total of 330 primary care and cardiology practices, health care centers, and hospital-based outpatient departments and 125 436 Medicare patients were included in this analysis. High-risk patients in the intervention group had a mean (SD) age of 74 (4.1), 15 213 (63%) were male, 21 657 (90%) were receiving antihypertensive medication at baseline, and 16 558 (69%) were receiving statins. Almost all (21 791 [91%]) high-risk intervention group patients had above-threshold systolic blood pressure level (>130 mm Hg), LDL cholesterol level (>70 mg/dL), or both. Patients in the intervention group with these risk factors were more likely than control patients (8127 [37.3%] vs 4753 [32.4%]; adjusted difference in percentage points, 4.8; 95% CI, 2.9-6.7; P < .001) to initiate or intensify statins or antihypertensive medication. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services did not pay for CVD risk reduction for medium-risk enrollees, but initiation or intensification rates for these enrollees were also higher in the intervention vs control groups (12 668 [27.9%] vs 7544 [24.8%]; adjusted difference in percentage points, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.9-4.3; P < .001). Among high-risk enrollees with clinical data approximately 1 year after enrollment, LDL cholesterol level was slightly lower in the intervention vs control groups (mean [SD], 89 [31.8] vs 91 [32.1] mg/dL; adjusted difference, −1.8; 95% CI, −2.9 to −0.6; P = .002), as was systolic blood pressure (mean [SD], 133 [15.7] vs 135 [16.4] mm Hg; adjusted difference, −1.7; 95% CI, −2.8 to −0.6; P = .003).

Conclusions and Relevance

In this study, a pay-for-performance model led to modest increases in the use of CVD medications in a range of organizations, despite high medication use at baseline.

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