Doctor talking to patient

More than 500 healthcare practices nationwide have been selected to participate in a federally sponsored program to prevent heart attacks and strokes among Medicare patients, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said this week.

The Million Hearts Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduction Model is part of the larger Million Hearts initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. CMS estimates that about 20,000 healthcare practitioners and more than 3.3 Medicare beneficiaries will eventually be involved in the five-year pilot program that kicks off in September.

Doctors will work with each patient to develop a personalized approach that might include smoking cessation interventions, blood pressure management or medications such as cholesterol-lowering drugs. Each patient will receive a personalized risk modification plan, and practices will be paid for reducing the absolute risk for heart disease or stroke among their high-risk beneficiaries.

“Our healthcare system historically often emphasized acute care over preventive care,” CMS chief medical officer Patrick Conway, M.D., said in a statement. “This initiative will enhance patient-centered care and give practitioners the resources to invest the time and in staff to address and manage patients who are at high risk for heart attacks and strokes.”

The risk-reduction program is being done through the CMS Innovation Center, which is testing new payment and service delivery models in an effort to spend healthcare dollars more wisely and deliver better care.