Heart of the Matter: Heart disease kills over 600,000 people every year, and is preventable

Heart of the Matter: Heart disease kills over 600,000 people every year, and is preventable

About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Several factors that put people at a higher risk for heart disease are preventable lifestyle choices and manageable medical conditions, including: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use. [i] But these preventable conditions can be positively influenced through effective engagement with preventive and screening reminders and other consumer health education outreach.

At Eliza, we have been communicating with consumers about their health since 1999, using a multi-channel approach that fosters member engagement and closes gaps in care to improve clinical outcomes. Using our experience of millions of consumer interactions, Eliza engages individuals where they are, in ways that work best for them, so they can modify their own health-related behaviors for the better.

Our results help close gaps in care and enable individuals to understand and receive the proper medical treatment or information to improve their overall heart health.  The following are findings from Eliza’s work with health plans across the US:

1. Improved Cholesterol and Related Clinical Screening 6.9% among Medicare Beneficiaries to Improve Star Rating 4.5 to 5

Eliza worked with Independent Health, a 50,000 member Medicare Advantage health plan to develop a comprehensive program to improve population health. The year-long award winning multichannel engagement program included key Medicare Star measures such as medication adherence for high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes care, heart health, immunizations, and HOS/CAHPS improvements.  The program received recognition by URAC for Best Practices in Health Care Consumer Engagement and Protection for Quality Measurement and Data Analytics for Improving Medicare Advantage Star Metrics through Automated, Interactive Outreach.

After 1 year, Cholesterol screening was 6.9 percentage points higher in the Eliza intervention group vs. a control group. The rate of other gaps in care closures increased by as much as 32%, and the Medicare Advantage plan Star rating increased from a 4.5-Star to 5-Star status across clinical and satisfaction metrics.


"Eliza was instrumental in helping Independent Health achieve our highly ranked quality outcomes with our Medicare Advantage members," said Thomas J. Foels, M.D., Independent Health's chief medical officer.  "These types of initiatives are effective at encouraging members to see their doctor and get important screenings, tests and treatments.  Eliza enables us to keep our members well informed about ways they can be engaged in their own health."[ii]

2. Increased Medication Adherence with Statin Treatment by 24.8%

Working with a regional Medicare Advantage plan, Eliza developed an adherence program for patients who had recently started statin therapy or lapsed their statin prescription. The 3 month program focused on improving patients’ understanding of their condition and provided support, motivation, and confidence so that patients were better equipped to actively manage their health. The Eliza intervention involved sequential and cadenced calls to patients with a tailored direct mail piece delivered after the initial contact. Those who experienced the outreach intervention increased statin medication adherence by 24.8% over those in a control group.

In a randomized clinical trial lead by Humana Inc. and Astra Zeneca in a managed care setting, an Eliza adherence communication outreach and intervention program resulted in a 16% increase in medication adherence over a 6 month period. [iii] Additionally, from the health plan members involved, Eliza uncovered surprising beliefs among members about taking their statin medication. These included:

  • More than 50% of members reached didn’t believe that taking a statin will lower their cholesterol
  • More than 58% of members reached thought they could stop taking their statin once their cholesterol was reduced

The Eliza team provided educational intervention recommendations to mitigate these barriers to appropriate care.

3. Drive to Resources increased over 116% for Health and Wellness Programs

Eliza collaborated with Kaiser Permanente in the ‘Thrive Healthy Living’ program to proactively engage 69,000 members who were identified as having either an elevated body mass index and/or as smokers.  Eliza seized the opportunity to improve health literacy by driving members to health and wellness resources and programs. The solution intensified utilization of online health and wellness content beyond expectation:

  • 292% increase in Weight Management questionnaire completion
  • 477% increase in Smoking Cessation questionnaire completion
  • 226% increase in Stress Management questionnaire completion
  • 116% increase in Health Risk Assessment questionnaire completion
  • 161% increase in Healthy Eating questionnaire completion

Over 30% of members reached were inspired to schedule an appointment with their physician and participation in the online weight and stress management programs more than doubled and participation in the smoking cessation program increased four-fold. The program was awarded Gold recognition in the Consumer Health Improvement category in the URAC Best Practices in Health Care Consumer Empowerment and Protection Awards. The award recognizes innovative leadership and successful programs in consumer-focused health care management.

A preventable death from heart disease is one death too many. Engage Eliza to improve population health and realize more positive heart health outcomes. For more information on Eliza solutions to close gaps in care and support health literacy with engaging communication strategies, email eliza@hms.com

About the Author:

Carolyn Peterson, Marketing Manager at Eliza Corporation shares a passion for science and technology that puts people at the center of their health and ultimately improves quality of life. Prior to Eliza she worked at PHT Corporation, the leading provider of mobile technology that collected patient reported outcomes in clinical research.  She holds a bachelors of business administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

[i] CDC, NCHS. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2013 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2015. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2013, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed Feb. 3, 2015.
[ii] Eliza Corporation and Independent Health Receive Award for Best Practices in Health Care Consumer Engagement and Protection from URAC. Fiercehealthpayer.com. FierceHealthPayer, 10 Oct. 2013. Web. <http://www.fiercehealthpayer.com/press-releases/eliza-corporation-and-independent-health-receive-award-best-practices-healt>.
[iii] Stacy, J. N., Schwartz, S. M., Ph.D, Ershoff, D., Dr.P.H, & Shreve, M. (2009). Incorporating Tailored Interactive Patient Solutions using Interactive Voice Response Technology to Improve Statin Adherence: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial in a Managed Care Setting. Population Health Management, 12(5), 1-14. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/pop.2008.0046


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