One year ago, the Department of Health and Human Services, with several key partners, launched the Million Hearts™ national public-private initiative. Million Hearts aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over five years through behavioral changes and clinical interventions. One of the most significant contributing factors to cardiovascular disease is hypertension, or high blood pressure. According to the CDC, nearly one in three American adults (67 million) has high blood pressure, and more than half (36 million) don’t have it under control. Additionally, high blood pressure contributes to nearly 1,000 deaths per day and accounts for nearly $131 billion in direct health care costs a year.
Today, the U.S. DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recognized two health care providers in the United States as 2012 Hypertension Control Champions: Ellsworth (Wis.) Medical Clinic and Kaiser Permanente’s Colorado region. The designation signifies these two health care providers have had remarkable success controlling hypertension across their patient populations, supported by verifiable data documenting the improvement. Watch a video of the announcement here.
Since 2008, Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s focus on managing hypertension has resulted in an improvement from an initial member control rate of 61 percent to its current control rate of 82.6 percent. The average hypertension control rate nationally is around 50 percent.
According to their press release, Kaiser Permanente’s hypertension control strategy has five central components:
- Registries: Through data housed within the Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect® electronic medical record, registries are created to identify members with hypertension.
- Actionable lists: Kaiser Permanente staff then draft lists to help identify which members did not have their blood pressure under control.
- Patient outreach: To reach those newly identified members, Kaiser Permanente nurses and other care team representatives work collaboratively to contact members and encourage them to come into local medical offices for blood pressure checks at least once a year.
- Managing blood pressure in the office: Kaiser Permanente primary care teams and clinical pharmacy staff develop long-term medication management programs for members with hypertension.
- Eliminating barriers: Members with hypertension are able to receive free blood pressure checks on a walk-in or appointment basis.
In September 2011, shortly after Million Hearts officially launched, Janet Wright, MD, executive director of Million Hearts, joined several other leaders in the heart health space at the Center for Total Health in Washington, D.C., for a summit to address hypertension. You can see our coverage of that event at these links.