Why are we struggling to make lasting improvements in the lives of the nation’s 5.1 million heart failure patients — and their families? How do we extend the reach of the medical community so they can have a greater impact on the daily activities of those affected by heart failure? Where is there existing infrastructure that can be used to speed implementation and support adoption of programs that help heart failure patients and their caregivers? These were among the questions we asked experts from leading physicians, hospitals and nursing groups, the CMS and VA, and pharmaceuticals, patient advocacy organizations and others to wrestle with at collaborative sessions held on behalf of the National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention.
The answers we received from this expert Steering Committee were audacious. Give heart failure patients access to a live helpline to get health information and find needed services and programs. Build it off the 2-1-1 system. Start in areas of high incidence and roll out nationwide.
And so the “Stronger Hearts Helpline” was born.
Over the next 16 months, we guided Steering Committee members through a deep due diligence process, the full development of an operational helpline program, and, with funding from a major pharmaceutical company, the 2015 pilot launch in San Bernardino, CA. Since then, we have supported the day-to-day operations of the San Bernardino helpline and efforts to bring Stronger Hearts to other communities across the country.