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October 13, 2015

ThedaCare Participating in National Cardiovascular Patient Study

ThedaCare is one of 10 healthcare systems in the nation participating in a study designed to improve the quality of care for cardiovascular patients while lowering overall costs.

SMARTCare Aims to Increase Patient Education, Improve Quality

ThedaCare is one of 10 healthcare systems in the nation participating in a study designed to improve the quality of care for cardiovascular patients while lowering overall costs.

SMARTCare (Smarter Management And Resource use for Today’s Complex Cardiac Care) is a new care management system for patients with stable heart disease. Patients in the program learn more about their health choices and become more involved in the decision-making process, said Jim Shefka, System Value Stream Director for Cardiac, Spine & Orthopedics.

“This is all about giving patients more information about their condition so they know all the risks and options available and helping to guide them to the best intervention,” he said. “We’re taking a thorough look at how we deliver cardiac care from the first signs of the disease.”

More often than not, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer for patient care. Using SMARTCare, which brings together five decision-making tools, physicians will access appropriate use criteria and other resources based on the patient’s history and symptoms. These tools include individualized patient cardiac risk profiles and electronic databases that allow the physician to readily access related treatment information at the right time. The SMARTCare tools are designed to further empower patients to become actively involved in the management of their care.

“SMARTCare is an ambitious call to action for primary care providers and cardiologists who treat patients with coronary artery disease,” said cardiologist Robert Wilson, MD, who is ThedaCare’s lead on the program.  “We are excited to be in the vanguard of caregivers who will put into practice new decision making tools to improve patient care. Our patients' outcomes will also help us understand where we have succeeded, and where we need to invest more time and effort.”

Medical staff use the various programs to show patients what they can expect depending on the decisions they make, Shefka said. “We can show them – this is what your risk factors look like if you quit smoking or start exercising,” he said. “It’s focused on patients and educating them so they can make the best possible choices.”

Patients can enroll in SMARTCare when they come in for a stress test. From there, patients and their physicians will look at all of the different options available and their implications, Shefka said. He explained patients may not always realize that they’ll need to take medication for the rest of their lives if they undergo a stent procedure.

“Patients don’t always realize the follow-up care required and all of the costs involved,” Shefka said. “With SMARTCare, patients learn more about their options. We hope the study shows that by getting patients more involved in the decision-making process that they’ll have better outcomes at a lower overall cost.”

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is funding the three-year SMARTCare program. Five facilities each from Wisconsin and Florida were selected to participate. Nationally, ThedaCare cardiologist Tom Lewandowski, MD, is leading the physician-driven quality improvement project that was developed by the American College of Cardiology along with its Florida and Wisconsin chapters. The study will compare the results of the patients in SMARTCare with those not in the program at the participating healthcare providers.

“A physician’s best ally is a well-informed patient. The ACC SMARTCare Program offers physicians an opportunity to align their real-world experiences with the best evidence-based recommendations,” said ACC President Kim Allan Williams Sr., M.D., FACC. “This will reduce unnecessary procedures and provide a mechanism for physicians and patients to partner in decisions on care.”

“SMARTCare sites represent a variety of practices across Florida and Wisconsin and were selected based on their commitment to providing quality care. ThedaCares’ dedication to supporting the doctor-patient relationship and commitment to quality improvement through participation in registry programs will help make this program successful,” Williams said. 

About ThedaCare:

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 35 clinics in 14 counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.  Construction of ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton is underway. For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

About the American College of Cardiology:

The American College of Cardiology is a 47,000-member medical society that is the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team. The mission of the College is to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. The ACC leads in the formation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The College operates national registries to measure and improve care, provides professional medical education, promotes cardiovascular research and bestows credentials on cardiovascular specialists who meet stringent qualifications. For more information, visit

The project described was supported by Grant Number 1C1CMS331322 from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or any of its agencies.