Wednesday, September 26, 2012

EHRs Tracking Blood Pressure

HHS and the “Million Hearts Initiative” co-led by CDC and CMS, recognized Kaiser Permanente Colorado, Denver, and Ellsworth Medical Clinic in Wisconsin as “Million Hearts High Blood Pressure Control Champions” for achieving blood pressure control rates of greater than 80 percent among their patients with high blood pressure.

CDC reports that nearly one in three American adults (67 million) has high blood pressure and more than half (36 million) don’t have it under control. High blood pressure is responsible for direct healthcare costs of almost $131 billion each year.

Both systems credit the improvement to using EHRs to track and monitor patients, sending email and phone reminders to increase medication adherence and encourage healthy lifestyle changes, and working closely with staff to prioritize high blood pressure.

Since 2008, Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s focus on managing hypertension has improved the blood pressure control rate of its patients from 61 percent to 82.6 percent. Between 2007 and 2011, the Ellsworth Medical Clinic in Western Wisconsin improved blood pressure control among patients with cardiovascular disease from 68 percent to 97 percent. As of August 2012, the practice had achieved a 90 percent control rate for all patients with hypertension.

Christopher Tashjian, M.D., a physician at the Ellsworth Medical Clinic and President of the group, said “Improvement in the practice came when the entire staff including other caregivers and administrative staff, not just doctors were involved in quality improvement initiatives. We now realize disease management is a team sport.”