HHS launches challenge to improve hypertension through health IT

July 7, 2014

In an effort to help clinical practices use health information technology (health IT) like electronic health records (EHRs) to reduce high blood pressure, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a new challenge asking health care professionals and other caregivers to submit the tools they use to improve patient care.

The EHR Innovations for Improving Hypertension Challenge, launched by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), is part of Million Hearts®, a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Co-led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Million Hearts brings together communities, health systems, nonprofit organizations, federal agencies including ONC, and private-sector partners from across the country to fight heart disease and stroke.

“Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and there are many health-care providers who employ clinical decision support tools, like standardized treatment approaches or protocols to control hypertension among their patients. This challenge helps us find the best examples of those efforts and scale them up,” said Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, national coordinator for health information technology.

Evidence-based treatment protocols provide a playbook for providers to guide their selection of effective therapies for blood pressure control, contributing to better health, better health care and lower costs for patients. The deadline for submissions is October 6 and winners will be announced on October 28.

“We are excited that with this challenge we will be able to share the best practices that many physicians and their teams are using to help patients improve their blood pressure and reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke,” said Janet Wright, MD, executive director of Million Hearts. “Our goal of preventing a million heart attacks and strokes in five years can happen by helping at least 10 million more hypertensive patients achieve safe and swift control. The new challenge is designed to help patients and their care teams use health IT tools to protect and improve their cardiovascular health”

Million Hearts encourages clinicians across the country to improve the quality of care through the ABCS – Aspirin when appropriate, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation. ONC is at the forefront of Million Hearts by identifying how providers and practices can leverage health IT to prevent heart disease and stroke.

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