In 2004, the American Heart Association (AHA) recruited an Advisory Working Group (AWG) for two primary purposes:
- To evaluate the quality of care for all acute myocardial infarction patients.
- To explore the issue of increasing the number of STEMI patients with timely access to primary percutaneous intervention (PCI), the preferred method of treatment immediately following a STEMI attack.
As a result, a market research study was conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers in order to help the AWG understand cardiac services for these patients. In June 2005, AWG received the results of the study. The market research suggested that:
- There was a recognized need to improve the systems of care for STEMI patients.
- The American Heart Association should play a leading role in bringing together all of the constituents involved in the care of these patients.
This research resulted in an AHA AWG Consensus Statement being published in Circulation in March 2006 and a stakeholder "call to action". The AWG developed a set of Guiding Principles to lead the initiative.
In late March 2006, the AHA convened a three-day conference with multidisciplinary groups involved in the care of STEMI patients, including:
- Physicians (noninvasive and interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, emergency care and critical care practitioners, internists)
- EMS personnel
- Community and tertiary hospital administrators (including representation from rural areas)
- Quality and outcomes experts
- Government officials
These thought leaders were charged with:
- Reviewing the current state or system of care.
- Developing the ideal implementation system.
- Addressing the gaps and barriers between the current and ideal system.
- Formulating recommendations for research, programs and policy from the perspective of the constituency they were to represent.
Early in 2007, drafts of the STEMI Systems of Care manuscripts were finalized. During the review process, action items for the American Heart Association begin to take shape. By April, a cross-functional team was recruited to forge ahead with the organization's national initiative now known as Mission: Lifeline.
In May 2007, the collaborative efforts from the conference led to 11 manuscripts being published in Circulation. Mission: Lifeline was formally launched with a national news briefing, local media efforts and video and audio news releases.
The history of Mission: Lifeline is still being written. The American Heart Association looks forward to being able to share statistical data that shows the initiative to be effective in saving lives and improving the quality of care for STEMI patients.