Map showing CHI Registry sign-ups through December 2022

Congenital Heart Initiative celebrates global reach in first two years

The first patient-powered registry for adults living with congenital heart disease (CHD) — the Congential Heart Initiative (CHI) — celebrates a major milestone this month. In the two years since it was launched in December 2020, the registry has enrolled more than 3,227 adults with CHD from all 50 states and 28 countries.

Why it matters

Although nearly 2 million adults in the United States are living with a congenital heart defect — more adults than children in fact — it’s been historically difficult to gather data on these conditions and to identify patient needs.

“We developed this registry together with numerous patients and providers so it could become a platform for increasing our knowledge and improving care,” says Anitha John, M.D., medical director of the Washington Adult Congenital Heart Program and an adult congenital cardiologist at Children’s National Hospital, who helped drive the registry’s creation. “We want it to become a resource for patients and researchers, a place where they can learn more about what it means for adults who had their hearts repaired in childhood to live a long, healthy life.”

The patient benefit

As the treatments for children with CHDs have improved, people born with them are living longer and longer. That means that as they become adults, they have a lot of worry and uncertainty about their limitations and abilities to achieve what might be considered common adult milestones.

“Over the past two years, more than 3,000 adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) patients from around the world, including myself, have worked to support ACHD research by participating in the Congenital Heart Initiative (CHI),” says Scott Leezer, a single-ventricle heart defect patient and co-leader of research and advocacy for the Initiative. “This selfless and simple effort has produced an investment in improving our collective understanding of adult patients living with CHD. We hope these investments will pay dividends in helping guide new research strategies for future generations of CHD patients.”

Participants in the registry receive regular newsletters, highlighting findings and providing access to patient specific resources including content from the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA), a key partner. The ACHA collaboration has also given registry participants the opportunity to interact with other people – a key request identified as important based on input from people who have already registered.

What’s unique

“There is no ’one-size-fits-all’ answer for adults with CHD,” Dr. John adds.

“While other CHD registries exist, they are provider-based and not patient-powered,” said John. “The CHI registry is driven by patients, supporting research but also providing information based on what is important according to the people with CHD themselves.”

What’s next

A sub-study of the CHI will use PCORnet®, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, to better understand how gaps in care impact the adult patient experience with CHD. The CHI-RON study, which stands for Congenital Heart Initiative: Redefining Outcomes and Navigation to Adult-Centered Care, will be the first of its kind to fill in these knowledge gaps by exploring three distinct types of data at once: patient reported outcomes, health insurance claims and electronic health records (EHR). The effort is led by Children’s National and Louisiana Public Health Institute.

“PCORnet is a fantastic resource to help us fully understand the impact of gaps in CHD care,” said Tom Carton, dual-principal investigator of CHI-RON and chief data officer at the Louisiana Public Health Institute. “It is essentially turbo-charging our patient-reported data with two additional layers of insights from claims and EHRs, unlocking answers that would be impossible to achieve in isolation.”

In terms of research, the CHI now has enough participants to allow researchers to complete some important studies about pregnancy, mental health and long-term health care follow ups, all of which will kick off within the next year. The research teams hope to engage centers across the United States to better determine the needs of individual ACHD centers and to understand how the CHI can help with these needs.