For many patients, the transition from pediatric to adult care can be confusing and overwhelming. Lurie Children’s Heart Center and the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine have partnered to launch a first-of-its-kind program to help guide adolescents during the transition years. Transition refers to all of the planning, preparation and skill building that leads up to and surrounds the actual transfer of care, including choosing a new physician, transferring medical records, communicating treatment histories and navigating insurance coverage. The Cardiovascular Bridge programs are designed as a partnership between the patient, family, pediatric and adult cardiac providers to successfully bridge the medical needs of young patients with heart disease.
The first Cardiovascular Bridge Program has successfully launched for patients 16-26 years old with bicuspid aortic valve disease and aortopathy. Additional programs will be developed in coming years, expanding services to cardiomyopathy, adult congenital heart disease, transplant/extracorporeal support and preventive cardiovascular medicine. A fundamental aspect of the program is the specialty clinics designed to bring pediatric and adult cardiologists, nurses and other health care professionals together in a single setting, allowing young patients to start building relationships with the adult healthcare team they will continue to see in the future.
The main goals of the program are to:
- Increase understanding of their condition
- Identify and address individual barriers to transition
- Learn to navigate the adult healthcare system and insurance needs
- Become more involved and independent in their health care
- Develop relationships and learn to communicate with adult providers
- Develop skills necessary to be successful in future
Another significant aspect of the programs is to understand and optimize clinical outcomes for these high-risk cardiac populations through research. Lurie Children's Heart Center Research Core and the Bluhm Clinical Trials Unit have joined resources to coordinate research efforts across a patient’s lifespan from childhood, through adolescence and young adulthood, into adulthood. These research endeavors will help guide the best courses of care for a patient and give physician-scientists opportunities to better understand the natural history and mechanisms of heart disease.
For more information regarding the Cardiovascular Bridge Program, please e-mail BAVbridgeprogram@luriechildrens.org or call 312.227.4641.