Remote Optimization of Guideline-Directed Medical Therapy in Patients With Heart Failure With Reduced Ejection Fraction

JAMA Cardiol. 2020 Dec 1;5(12):1430-1434. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2020.3757.


Importance: Optimal treatment of heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) is scripted by treatment guidelines, but many eligible patients do not receive guideline-directed medical therapy (GDMT) in clinical practice.

Objective: To determine whether a remote, algorithm-driven, navigator-administered medication optimization program could enhance implementation of GDMT in HFrEF.

Design, setting, and participants: In this case-control study, a population-based sample of patients with HFrEF was offered participation in a quality improvement program directed at GDMT optimization. Treating clinicians in a tertiary academic medical center who were caring for patients with heart failure and an ejection fraction of 40% or less (identified through an electronic health record-based search) were approached for permission to adjust medical therapy according to a sequential titration algorithm modeled on the current American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association heart failure guidelines. Navigators contacted participants by telephone to direct medication adjustment and conduct longitudinal surveillance of laboratory tests, blood pressure, and symptoms under supervision of a pharmacist, nurse practitioner, and heart failure cardiologist. Patients and clinicians declining to participate served as a control group.

Exposures: Navigator-led remote optimization of GDMT compared with usual care.

Main outcomes and measures: Proportion of patients receiving GDMT in the intervention and control groups at 3 months.

Results: Of 1028 eligible patients (mean [SD] values: age, 68 [14] years; ejection fraction, 32% [8%]; and systolic blood pressure, 122 [18] mm Hg; 305 women (30.0%); 892 individuals [86.8%] in New York Heart Association class I and II), 197 (19.2%) participated in the medication optimization program, and 831 (80.8%) continued with usual care as directed by their treating clinicians (585 [56.9%] general cardiologists; 443 [43.1%] heart failure specialists). At 3 months, patients participating in the remote intervention experienced significant increases from baseline in use of renin-angiotensin system antagonists (138 [70.1%] to 170 [86.3%]; P < .001) and β-blockers (152 [77.2%] to 181 [91.9%]; P < .001) but not mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists (51 [25.9%] to 60 [30.5%]; P = .14). Doses for each category of GDMT also increased from baseline in the intervention group. Among the usual-care group, there were no changes from baseline in the proportion of patients receiving GDMT or the dose of GDMT in any category.

Conclusions and relevance: Remote titration of GDMT by navigators using encoded algorithms may represent an efficient, population-level strategy for rapidly closing the gap between guidelines and clinical practice in patients with HFrEF.