Telehealth Project to Help Atrial Fibrillation Patients During COVID Crisis

By Patricia Salber, MD, MBA | Published 4/23/2020 1

telehealth atrial fibrillation

Photo source: iStock

The Doctor Weighs In is very lucky to have had a long-standing relationship with the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health and Safety (PPAHS), one of the premier patient safety organizations in the country. The Founder and Executive Director, Michael Wong, has been a frequent contributor has also arranged for others in his network to write for us as well. We are in awe of the work PPAHS does and are pleased to share the following news from their Press Release:

A telehealth project to improve treatment and adherence for patients at highest risk for stroke has been launched by PPAHS and supported by a BMS-Pfizer Alliance Grant

The PPAHS Afib telehealth project

Today, PPAHS announced the launch of a new, free virtual clinic and website, Virtual Patient Care in response to the COVID-19 crisis. It was created to meet the pressing needs of patients with atrial fibrillation (Afib) who are at the highest level of risk from a stroke. The project also aims to help Afib patients cope with the challenges presented by COVID-19.

According to Michael Wong, JD, Founder and Executive Director of the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety, the organization that conceived of and managed the project:

“Under current COVID-19 conditions, patients face the burdens of social distancing and increased difficulty in reaching clinicians busy with emergencies. Telehealth has proven essential in addressing patients’ pressing health needs and ensuring good patient-to-clinician dialogue. With today’s launch of Virtual Patient Care and the CV Virtual Clinic, vital telehealth benefits are now also extended to Afib patients in need.”

The goal of Virtual Patient Care is to foster an adherence rate greater than the reported 50% for patients at the highest ranges of stroke risk. 

Unrestricted grant from BMS-Pfizer

The free telehealth service is supported by an unrestricted grant from the BMS-Pfizer Alliance.  PPAHS is using the funds to establish the clinic’s web platform and chat lines.

The CV Virtual Clinic and Virtual Patient Care will also use the efforts, involvement, and/or resources of the following organizations:

“Because people with Afib are at a five-times-higher risk of having a stroke, adhering to the medication plans prescribed by their doctors is of the utmost importance,” said Mariell Jessup, Chief Medical Officer for the American Heart Association. “Being able to provide people with the support they need to manage their Afib at home during this time may help avoid additional health risks.”

The benefits of telehealth

Telehealth has proven essential in connecting patients with their healthcare providers in the current COVID-19 crisis. It also has important additional benefits as follows:

  • Telemonitoring has been shown to improve medication adherence in Afib patients, and
  • Research shows that some virtual clinics are “an effective alternative to the usual care model for many patients.”

“It’s hard to imagine what the COVID-19 crisis would be like without the benefits of telehealth, which is protecting both patients and caregivers on the front lines of this fight,” said Sue Koob, MPA, Chief Executive Officer of the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association. “Cardiovascular disease remains a leading killer of Americans, responsible for nearly 650,000 U.S. deaths, killing fully one in four Americans, every year. Today’s announcement means better, safer education and adherence for Afib patients, which is very much needed at this time of the global health crisis.”

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Who will use the virtual clinic?

Patients referred to the CV Virtual Clinic will be those diagnosed with Afib or who have been treated with a reversal agent and then are restarted on anticoagulant therapy.


The clinic is intended to help Afib patients to keep their treatment in accordance with the American Heart Association’s 2019 Afib guidelines. The approach includes maintaining online resources, including a team of clinicians tasked with helping educate patients on maintaining adherence to their anticoagulant therapy.

Mellanie True Hills, founder of, a patient advocacy organization for those living with atrial fibrillation explains it this way:

“In our experience, medication nonadherence among Afib patients often stems from not truly understanding why they are taking a specific medication or what that medication does for them. We are proud to support the CV Virtual Clinic, which will provide individualized support to Afib patients in understanding their medications and the importance of taking them properly.”

Related content:
Greater Risk of Blood Clots in COVID-19 Patients
Fear of COVID-19 Keeps Patients From Seeking Medical Care

Andrea Baer, Executive Director of Mended Hearts, a national and community-based, non-profit, heart patient support network adds,

“This resource will be so helpful to Afib patients who need resources and support during this time,” We are excited to be able to offer this to our members.”

The PPAHS clinician team will monitor each patient. They will also be available to answer questions through a chat line or over the phone. No medical advice or prescribing will be done by PPAHS. This is a free service provided by PPAHS.

About the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health and Safety (PPAHS)

PPAHS is an internationally ranked top-100 patient safety organization, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety is a national advocacy force for addressing patient health and safety priorities that are shared by patients, physicians, regulators, and industry. We seek to ensure that the best medications, medical inventions, and technology that can improve care and reduce costs are employed. PPAHS works to advance patient health and safety by developing and highlighting best practices and recommendations through better use and application of clinical practices and experiences, information technologies and checklists, and healthcare information. As a voice in support of ideas and innovation that can improve care, we encourage a health ecosystem that fosters a culture of patient safety. For more about PPAHS, please go to

About was founded in 2007 by Mellanie True Hills, an atrial fibrillation survivor, to improve the quality of life for those living with atrial fibrillation and to raise awareness of afib and reduce afib strokes. HON Code Certified is a patient-to-patient resource and the most visited patient arrhythmia site. It features the latest afib news and videos along with information about atrial fibrillation and stroke symptoms, causes, risks, and treatment. The Atrial Fibrillation Services Locator helps atrial fibrillation patients find hospitals, atrial fibrillation centers, electrophysiologists, and surgeons that specialize in treating afib. also features atrial fibrillation patient resources, a newsletter, the Atrial Fibrillation Blog, the StopAfib Discussion Forum and Community, and the StopAfib YouTube Channel that brings top afib doctors to patients. For more information, visit or contact Mellanie True Hills at 940-466-9898.

Patricia Salber, MD, MBA


Patricia Salber, MD, MBA is the Founder. CEO, and Editor-in-Chief of The Doctor Weighs In (TDWI). Founded in 2005 as a single-author blog, it has evolved into a multi-authored, multi-media health information site with a global audience. She has worked hard to ensure that TDWI is a trusted resource for health information on a wide variety of health topics. Moreover, Dr. Salber is widely acknowledged as an important contributor to the health information space, including having been honored by LinkedIn as one of ten Top Voices in Healthcare in both 2017 and 2018.

Dr. Salber has a long list of peer-reviewed publications as well as publications in trade and popular press. She has published two books, the latest being “Connected Health: Improving Care, Safety, and Efficiency with Wearables and IoT solutions. She has hosted podcasts and video interviews with many well-known healthcare experts and innovators. Spreading the word about health and healthcare innovation is her passion.

She attended the University of California Berkeley for her undergraduate and graduate studies and UC San Francisco for medical school, internal medicine residency, and endocrine fellowship. She also completed a Pew Fellowship in Health Policy at the affiliated Institute for Health Policy Studies. She earned an MBA with a health focus at the University of California Irvine.

She joined Kaiser Permanente (KP)where she practiced emergency medicine as a board-certified internist and emergency physician before moving into administration. She served as the first Physician Director for National Accounts at the Permanente Federation. And, also served as the lead on a dedicated Kaiser Permanente-General Motors team to help GM with its managed care strategy. GM was the largest private purchaser of healthcare in the world at that time. After leaving KP, she worked as a physician executive in a number of health plans, including serving as EVP and Chief Medical Officer at Universal American.

She consults and/or advises a wide variety of organizations including digital start-ups such as CliniOps, My Safety Nest, and Doctor Base (acquired). She currently consults with Duty First Consulting as well as Faegre, Drinker, Biddle, and Reath, LLP.

Pat serves on the Board of Trustees of MedShare, a global humanitarian organization. She chairs the organization’s Development Committee and she also chairs MedShare's Western Regional Council.

Dr. Salber is married and lives with her husband and dog in beautiful Marin County in California. She has three grown children and two granddaughters with whom she loves to travel.


  • Very well-written article! The articles you share always contain great information. Telehealth project can greatly help Atrial Fibrillation patients during Covid-19. Telehealth can have a positive impact in this situation. Thank you for sharing this informative article and creating awareness.

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