Tennessee Needs
Better Heart Care

Too many Tennesseans suffer from life-threatening chronic heart disease that could be prevented and managed. Our state is #3 in heart attack and stroke, and the numbers are growing every day. The Tennessee Heart Health Network is committed to changing that.

Who We Are

Our Network

The Tennessee Heart Health Network is a statewide network of primary care providers, health systems, and academic centers committed to identifying, developing, and implementing patient-centered approaches to improve quality of care and outcomes for Tennesseans with heart disease. This network includes leading Tennessee health plans, health professional organizations, and advocacy organizations and is coordinated by the Tennessee Population Health Consortium. In addition to helping patients, we are studying how healthcare organizations can work together to improve cardiovascular outcomes, to advance our goal of moving the needle on heart health in Tennessee and beyond.

Our Goals

The overall goals of the Tennessee Heart Health Network are:

  • Leverage existing infrastructure by identifying and implementing appropriate evidence-based interventions to improve quality and outcomes of cardiovascular disease (CVD) care
  • Target hypertension control and smoking cessation as two of the most potent CVD risk factors
  • Reduce disparities in CVD outcomes and risks
  • Identify what is most effective at the practice level, then share our findings with practices across Tennessee
  • Help primary care practices across Tennessee strengthen their teams to offer new population services proven to help patients overcome diabetes, obesity, and ultimately heart disease through healthier living

Our Partners

Qsource, Our Lead Practice Facilitation Partner

Qsource is a nonprofit, mission-driven healthcare quality improvement consultancy headquartered in Tennessee since 1973.

Through its Practice Transformation services, Qsource Practice Facilitators are specifically trained in health information technology, practice facilitation, and quality improvement processes to help practices implement the meaningful changes that will improve heart health outcomes.

Health Systems and Providers

Professional and Advocacy Organizations

Health Plans

Academic Institutions

Our Governance

Executive Council

The Tennessee Heart Health Network is governed by the 45-member Executive Council, made up of representatives from all key partner organizations. This advisory council will provide the strong strategic oversight, guidance, and support that is essential for the success of the Network. The council is chaired by Dr. Ron Kirkland, president of the Tennessee Medical Association.

Leadership

Ron Kirkland
rhkirk2001@gmail.com
(731)-225-9167

Dr. Ron Kirkland, MD, MBA
Executive Council President, Tennessee Heart Health Network
President, Tennessee Medical Association

Dr. Kirkland is currently President of the Tennessee Medical Association, where he has served in numerous positions since joining TMA in 1983. These include Chair of the TMA Legislative Committee and the Professional Relations Committee of TMA. He also has filled many medical advisory roles, including Board Chair of American Medical Group Association and its foundation. Dr. Kirkland received both his medical degree and his MBA from the University of Tennessee, and his BS from the University of Tennessee-Martin.

Jim Bailey
jeb@uthsc.edu
(901) 448-2475

Jim Bailey, MD, MPH, FACP
Principal Investigator, Tennessee Heart Health Network
Executive Director, Tennessee Population Health Consortium, University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Jim Bailey serves as the Robert S. Pearce Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine, Professor of Medicine and Preventive Medicine, Director for the Center for Health Systems Improvement, and Executive Director for the Tennessee Population Health Consortium at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. He is principal investigator (PI) for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality-funded Tennessee Heart Health Network which seeks to support and strengthen primary care practices across Tennessee in in their efforts to improve cardiovascular health. He is also PI for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute-funded Management of Diabetes in Everyday Life (MODEL) study.

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Ben Heavrin
bheavrin@qsource.org
(615) 438-4275

Benjamin S. Heavrin, MD, MBA, FACEP
Co-Principal Investigator, Tennessee Heart Health Network
Chief Medical Officer, Qsource

Ben Heavrin is a board-certified emergency medicine physician who has been practicing in middle Tennessee for over a decade. He completed his undergraduate studies in economics at Princeton University, and he then attended Vanderbilt University for both medical and business school. Ben has vast experience in healthcare clinical leadership. He has served within academic medical centers, large health systems, health plans, and the public sector. Ben’s wife, Jill, is also an emergency medicine physician. They have two children, Jane and Luke. Ben is a Colorado native. He is an active golfer, runner, and outdoorsman.

Umar Kabir
ukabir@uthsc.edu
(901) 448-2453

Umar Y. Kabir, PhD, MPH, DVM
Program Manager, Tennessee Heart Health Network
Director of Operations, Tennessee Population Health Consortium

Umar Kabir has extensive research experience in areas including healthcare disparity, health systems strengthening, mental illness, process improvement, and health information technology in low-resource communities. He has successfully published research papers in several peer-reviewed journals and has presented both nationally and internationally. Dr. Kabir’s professional experience includes a fellowship at Qsource and working as an epidemiologist for the Shelby County government, most recently managing the Department of Health’s COVID-19 Cluster Investigation Unit and Special Investigations Teams.

Tennessee Population Health Consortium

The Tennessee Heart Health Network is the signature initiative of the Tennessee Population Health Consortium. The Consortium is a collaboration of major academic institutions, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders working to improve population health and health equity across Tennessee. Our mission is to encourage the adoption of evidence-based practices, transform primary and preventive care, and measurably improve health outcomes, quality of life, and health equity for the people of Tennessee.

The Consortium supports the Tennessee Population Health Data Network (TN-POPnet) to track and support improvements in quality and outcomes of care for population health initiatives across Tennessee, including the TN Heart Health Network.

The Consortium also supports the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Coalition to improve diabetes care, the Cancer Prevention and Control Program to support cancer prevention initiatives, and the Equitable Health in Neighborhoods initiative to improve access to essential primary and preventive care.

The Consortium is dedicated to expanding the primary care workforce and improving population health through training and certification of healthcare workers in motivational interviewing and health coaching.

EvidenceNOW

EvidenceNOW: Building State Capacity

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) EvidenceNOW program seeks to improve heart health and help reduce cardiovascular disease disparities by disseminating and implementing patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) findings in primary care practices to improve care delivery. EvidenceNOW aims to address health inequities by working with health care organizations, public health, and primary care practices in states with the highest rates of preventable cardiovascular disease events. Through EvidenceNOW 2.0, grantees in four states – Tennessee, Alabama, Ohio, and Michigan – will form primary care extension services based in academic medical centers to coordinate clinical, public health, and community partners to bring together the resources, skills, and commitment to support statewide primary care practice improvement.

These grantees will build statewide networks of primary care practices and provide selected practices with the quality improvement (QI) services they need to improve heart health. Initial work will focus on improving the management of blood pressure and decreasing tobacco use. The goal is to catalyze the development of a sustainable, state-based external primary care QI support infrastructure using the EvidenceNOW model of external support.

For more information about AHRQ and EvidenceNOW initiatives, please visit: https://www.ahrq.gov/evidencenow/index.html

UTHSC, Qsource, and other Tennessee partners playing a major role

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) Tennessee Population Health Consortium was selected by AHRQ to participate in the EvidenceNOW: Building State Capacity initiative. In keeping with this distinction, UTHSC received a grant from AHRQ in the amount of $4.5 million to build the Tennessee Heart Health Network, our statewide network of primary care practices, and to provide selected practices with the quality improvement (QI) services they need to improve heart health. Consistent with AHRQ goals, the Tennessee Heart Health Network’s initial work will focus on improving the management of blood pressure and decreasing tobacco use.