Research Update

Researchers Chart Quicker Path to Patients with IGLOO

A seated man in blue shirt and tan pants gets his blood pressure taken by person wearing a white coat

Leaders at the Wake Forest School of Medicine are demonstrating how to move research outcomes into patient care more rapidly than ever before through a project known as IGLOO, as they aim to prevent strokes and cardiovascular events.

IGLOO stands for Implementation of Guidelines for Lowering Blood Pressure. It is a major initiative of the Center for Healthcare Innovation (CHI), a group spanning the School of Medicine and Wake Forest Baptist Health that acts as “air traffic control” for scientists, digital experts, project managers and others who work together to accelerate discovery into practice.

The goal is to close what is known as the translational gap, a period of perhaps 15 to 20 years it often takes for major discoveries to reach the care environment. The promising results of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) encouraged researchers to start implementing its findings as soon as possible. Those findings included new protocols for measuring blood pressure – two periods of rest and the average of two measurements – that produce more accurate readings, which could help prevent strokes and cardiovascular events.

“IGLOO was designed to more rapidly get these new findings into the patient care environment,” said Jeff Williamson, MD, CHI’s director, section chief of gerontology at Wake Forest Baptist and one of the leaders of SPRINT, which Wake Forest served as the national coordinating center. “I’m not aware of any other health system in the United States that is actually doing a project like this.”

IGLOO is rolling out the updated blood pressure measurement protocol in Wake Forest Baptist’s network of 125 clinics and 450 providers. During that rollout, new data is being gathered that is helping adoption and implementation. The goal is to implement this new protocol in all of Wake Forest Baptist’s patient-facing clinics and services, not just the network clinics, and eventually across the Southeast through partner Atrium Health.

IGLOO represents an important growing trend in medicine called learning health systems – organizations or networks that continuously self-study and adapt using data and analytics to generate knowledge, engage stakeholders and implement behavior change to transform practice.

“This is an amazing opportunity to be on the forefront of truly providing better care in blood pressure management and having a positive effect on a large population of patients,” said Elisabeth Stambaugh, MD, chief medical officer of the Wake Forest Health Network. “If we can learn as we implement and try to refine the process, then we can spread that process that we’ve proven as a better way to do things across the Wake Forest Baptist Health family, across the larger Atrium Health enterprise family and then further across the entire country – and really show some amazing turnarounds in terms of blood pressure control.”