Feature Interview

New Partnership in Atrial Fibrillation: Heart Rhythm Society and WebMD Education

Interview by Jodie Elrod

Interview by Jodie Elrod

In this brief interview, we speak with Christina Wurster, the Heart Rhythm Society’s Chief Revenue Officer, and Lynda E. Rosenfeld, MD, FHRS, cardiologist at Yale Medicine and professor at Yale School of Medicine, about the launch of a free, online educational tool called “How to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke Due to AFib,” announced this December by The Heart Rhythm Society (HRS), in partnership with WebMD® Education. 

Tell us about how this partnership between the Heart Rhythm Society and WebMD Education came about.

Wurster: Following the patient brand survey that HRS completed in 2015, we recognized that patients and the public are going first and foremost to sites like WebMD and Google to seek health information. Via an introduction through our corporate partners, we identified a team within WebMD and Medscape Education who developed a framework for partnership with advocacy organizations and professional medical societies. The Heart Rhythm Society provided the content expertise, and WebMD provided the platform and access to the target audience.

Who was involved in developing this educational online content on atrial fibrillation (AFib)?

Wurster: The content was entirely developed by the Heart Rhythm Society. Utilizing our existing patient education content on AFib, our Patient and Caregivers Committee, chaired by Dr. Lynda Rosenfeld, developed the online module with patients and caregivers in mind. HRS aimed to provide an overview of Stroke Prevention in AFib in a free and interactive online educational module.

Tell us about the medical risks associated with AFib. 

Rosenfeld: The risks of AFib include stroke, damage to the heart muscle from fast heart rates, and symptoms such as weakness, palpitations, shortness of breath, and decreased exercise tolerance, among others.

Dr. Rosenfeld, why was it important to get involved with this initiative?

Rosenfeld: A previous survey of patients and their caregivers about AFib and stroke identified a real need for more information. This study, done by the HRS and National Stroke Association, found that almost 61% of patients with AFib and stroke or TIA were unaware that they had AFib prior to their neurologic event, and 83% wished they had known more about reducing their risk of stroke.

What can you tell us about features of the How to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke Due to AFib tool? What type of information can patients gather from this tool?

Wurster: The module includes a combination of videos, text, and animations to help patients learn the content via different methods. The module covers the entire spectrum of the AFib disease state, including signs and symptoms, diagnosis and testing, risk factors, treatment options, and questions to ask your doctor. There is a pre- and post-test question, so patients can test their knowledge after completing the module. They can also get a certificate of completion.

What are some of the ways in which the How to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke Due to AFib tool can help improve patient care? 

Rosenfeld: Knowledge is power. Having more knowledge will allow a patient to ask better questions and hopefully get and understand appropriate care. There is information about how to recognize AFib, treatment, the need for anticoagulation and symptoms of stroke.

Are there further plans for more collaborative educational activities between the HRS and WebMD?

Wurster: This free module will be available for 12 months. We hope to develop future modules with WebMD covering other heart rhythm conditions.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Wurster: In addition to the patient education module via WebMD, HRS has developed a website with numerous resources, including additional educational materials as well as online risk assessment and tools to find a specialist, at www.MyAFib.org.

For more information, please visit https://education.webmd.com/viewarticle/888499#content=0_0