Hospitals, Startups, Health Tech

Saint Luke’s, Story Health Roll Out New AFib Program

Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute launched a new solution on its care platform to help patients who have AFib or are at risk of developing the condition. The program, which was developed with digital health startup Story Health, seeks to engage patients between clinic visits.

Despite being the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a condition that often goes undiagnosed and/or untreated. The condition, which often accompanies other health problems like hypertension and heart failure, can increase a patient’s risk of stroke — with research showing that AFib causes about 20–30% of the most common type of stroke, especially among older patients.

This week, Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute — part of Kansas City-based Saint Luke’s Health System — rolled out a new solution on its care platform to help patients who have AFib or are at risk of developing the condition. The program, which was developed with digital health startup Story Health, seeks to engage patients between clinic visits.

“Today, specialty clinics are struggling to keep up with the needs of the patients that they serve, especially regarding things outside of the clinic visit,” said Story Health CEO Tom Stanis. “Story Health helps patients make progress on their AFib treatment journey between appointments, so that when they do show up in the clinic, everything can be streamlined and the clinic can support more patients with better outcomes.”

Getting a handle on AFib requires multiple types of treatment, and it can be difficult for patients to keep track of their care plan while dealing with alarming disease episodes, Stanis noted. That’s why Story Health built a digital platform that serves as an extension of the clinic, guiding patients through their day-to-day treatment journey, he explained.

The new program built in collaboration with Saint Luke’s is designed to make a patient’s care plan feel seamless in between clinic visits and procedures. In between these visits, Story Health’s coaches will provide information and counseling to support patients, as well as collect data like their heart rate, blood pressure and weight.

The program quantifies the disease over many days, helps with medications and labs, and supports patients during any disease-related episodes they may have, Stanis said. This AFib support is personalized to the needs of each patient, he added.

Patients will start participating in the program in June. How long the program will last varies depending on the patient’s situation — some patients are able to have their disease reversed through medical procedures, while others live with the disease for life, Stanis pointed out.

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Dr. Sanjaya Gupta, a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, said that Story Health stood out as a partner his organization should work with for two main reasons.

The first was that Story Health was “not just another tech company with an algorithm promising to solve all of our problems,” Dr. Gupta declared. Instead, the startup is committed to embracing the human factor that is necessary to connect with patients and achieve meaningful outcomes, he noted.

“Through their use of health coaches that were armed with the appropriate tools, I was interested in providing my patients the best care with a human touch,” Dr. Gupta remarked.

He also noted that Story Health has “some impressive experience” in treating heart failure patients, which he thinks is a more difficult population to care for than AFib patients.  

“While other companies have tried to do different methods of care delivery for heart failure, no one has really tried to take care of atrial fibrillation patients in an innovative way,” Dr. Gupta said. “AFib, like many chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart failure, requires a lot of little interactions over a long period of time. This program allows us to improve upon some of the gaps in the current clinical model.”

Photo: eakrin rasadonyindee, Getty Images