February marks American Heart Month. Chances are, you know someone who is affected by heart disease. After all, 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease and stroke each day— an average of one death every 38 seconds.
Studies reflect that the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) can be reduced by 80 percent through patients’ implementation of lifestyle modifications. This overwhelming evidence illuminates the importance of a population health approach for prevention. Proper patient education leads to reduced hospitalization, long-term medication and rehabilitation, lowering medical costs overall.
How the AHA is Using Technology and Psychographics to Reduce Heart Disease
The American Heart Association (AHA) is actively taking steps to lower heart disease diagnoses through the use of technology and psychographics.
1. Mobile health technology
In 2015, the AHA published a study focusing on patients’ mobile technology usage and the technology’s potential for lowering heart disease risk factors.
“The fact that mobile health technologies haven’t been fully studied doesn’t mean that they are not effective. Self-monitoring is one of the core strategies for changing cardiovascular health behaviors. If a mobile health technology, such as a smartphone app for self-monitoring diet, weight or physical activity, is helping you improve your behavior, then stick with it,” said Lora E. Burke, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author of the statement and professor of nursing and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh.
Several AHA peer-reviewed studies focused on the effectiveness of mobile health technologies and their impact for patients’ maintaining weight, quitting smoking, increasing regular physical activity and controlling healthy blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
2. Altering a gene mutation in human embryos
A study in the journal Nature reveals that genome editing could help correct disease-causing mutations in the hearts of human embryos, drastically shaping the future of heart disease diagnoses. Researchers focused on a particular gene (MYBPC3) which instructs the production of a protein found in heart muscle cells that cause inherited hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
This new research could potentially use genome editing to correct heredity mutations inherited from parent to child—before birth.
3. Catheter-based procedure for patients with aortic stenosis
Often, patients with severe aortic stenosis are at a high risk for surgical complications. A transcatheter aortic-valve replacement (TAVR) negates the need for open-heart surgery, therefore providing an ideal alternative for high-risk patients.
This alternative procedure is becoming more accepted and will become more widespread for patients in the future.
The AHA’s Collaboration with PatientBond
PatientBond is a platform for digital engagement, communicating with patients via email, text messaging and Interactive Voice Response. Each communication has a response mechanism (e.g., survey, link to additional education) for a two-way interaction. A key differentiator of the PatientBond platform is the integration of a psychographic segmentation model to personalize messaging according to a patient’s intrinsic motivations and communication preferences.
Psychographics pertain to people’s attitudes, values, lifestyles and personalities, and are core to their motivations. Targeting patients according to these shared characteristics and personalizing the messaging accordingly enhances the likelihood of activating desired health behaviors. The model was developed by healthcare consumer experts from Procter & Gamble and is the product of nearly 20 years of work.
Representatives from the AHA attended conferences at which PatientBond presented insights on its psychographic model and significant results from initiatives to reduce hospital readmissions for congestive heart failure. Seeing the potential for the catalyzed use of its world class, science-based care plans, content and patient education, the AHA invited a synergistic collaboration with PatientBond.
The collaboration kicked off with a joint webinar, focusing on solving readmissions using psychographics and technology. In the near future, the AHA/PatientBond collaboration aims to bring specific programs to market under the Health Motivation Platform, in order to address the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease:
- The Health Enhancement Program, a wellness program for the general population;
- 12-month Condition Management Programs for patients with specific heart issues; and
- 30-90 day Readmissions Reduction Program for various cardiovascular conditions.
This work recognizes that, when healthcare organizations narrow down the attitudes, lifestyles and motivations of individual patients by using deep market research insights, the ability to motivate healthier behavior among patients — including those with cardiovascular conditions — improves.