Telemedicine program connects participating health care facilities with volunteer cardiologists at no cost to patients
The American Heart Association has established Doctors With Heart to provide quality cardiology consultations to under-resourced communities via telemedicine. The program features no-cost, doctor-to-doctor cardiovascular consultations by American Heart Association volunteer cardiologists to participating primary care clinicians in Federally Qualified Health Centers and community health centers who are treating underinsured and uninsured patients.
Under-resourced populations have a disproportionately higher incidence of chronic and debilitating conditions including cardiovascular disease.1 The Association developed the Doctors With Heart program to help bridge the gap in care to under-resourced communities.
Ann Marie Navar, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiologist at UT Southwestern Medical School, is the lead volunteer and was central to the early days of the program pilot. Navar helped conceptualize Doctors With Heart based on an informal consultation system she had with clinicians, including her parents, who were volunteer health care professionals at a community health center that provides free medical care to the uninsured and under-insured of South Texas.
Doctors With Heart successfully provided consultations for patients at three health centers across the U.S. in a 2020-2021 pilot program. Now, Phase 2 of the program has begun, with additional health centers and volunteers coming onboard. Funding is provided, in part, by the Aetna Foundation, an independent, charitable and philanthropic affiliate of CVS Health. CVS also supports the American Heart Association as national presenting sponsor of Go Red for Women®.
Access to specialist care for cardiovascular disease can be expensive, geographically limited and unavailable to communities who need it most, yet health consultations that include cardiovascular considerations can improve life expectancy without extra costs.
(Lauritzen, T. et al., 2008)2
Success stories are already rolling in, like this one: A primary care physician in Texas knew his patient with heart failure needed a cardiologist, but the patient had significant barriers to getting the expertise and treatment he desperately needed. The physician reached out via the program to American Heart Association volunteer cardiologist John Osborne, M.D., CEO State of the Heart Cardiology in Grapevine, Texas, for consultation. The physician and cardiologist consulted digitally on the Doctors With Heart platform and collaborated to create a treatment plan that is expected to be highly successful.
“With the plans we have in place for this patient, you’re going to add years to his life, and he’s going to feel so much better.”
- John Osborne, M.D., American Heart Association volunteer cardiologist and CEO State of the Heart Cardiology
Call for Volunteers!
Are you a board-certified clinical cardiologist? Volunteer your time to provide doctor-to-doctor consults to FQHCs via telemedicine.
Make a big difference for under-resourced communities with just two hours/month, on your schedule.