Thursday, July 9, 2015

How Can You Use Your EHR to Prevent Heart Attacks and Strokes?

The Electronic Health Records (EHR) Innovations for Improving Hypertension Challenge, launched by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), is part of Million Hearts, a national initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by the year 2017. Co-led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), 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. This HIMSS Ask the Expert article is being published in May which is National Stroke Awareness Month and High Blood Pressure Education Month. In case you have not yet seen it, we strongly recommend that you read the Cardiovascular Care High Performers report, that was issued in support of Million Hearts, which highlights health plans and physician practices nationwide that have achieved excellent results in cardiovascular care, including high rates of hypertension control, cholesterol management and smoking cessation. 

The goal of the EHR Innovations for Improving Hypertension Challenge is to gather specific descriptions of Health Information Technology (HIT) tools and approaches used by individual practices to implement an evidence-based blood pressure (BP) treatment protocol that has led to improvement in practice-wide blood pressure control (Phase 1), and identify models for quickly and widely spreading these to other practices (Phase 2). A comprehensive clinical decision support (CDS) approach supports these five protocol elements:
1. Blood pressure measurement/recording
2. Blood pressure follow-up
3. Initiation and titration of medications
4. Patient engagement
5. Workup/referral for poor control 

On Friday, January 23, 2015, there was an outstanding webinar on the EHR Innovations for Improving Hypertension Challenge. The agenda was as follows:
  1. Million Hearts Blood Pressure Protocols – Hilary Wall, MPH
  2. Phase 1 winner: Green Spring Internal Medicine – Holly Dahlman, MD, FACP
  3. Phase 1 winner: Vibrant Health Family Clinics – Christopher Tashjian, MD, Mary Boles, LPN, Rosanne Matzek, Care Coordinator
  4. Challenge Phase 2 – Adam Wong, MPP
The webinar recording and slides are posted on the EHR Innovations for Improving Hypertension Challenge web page. We strongly recommend that providers, EHR support personnel, and healthcare organization leaders listen to this webinar. The two winners of Phase 1 of the challenge, Green Spring Internal Medicine and Vibrant Health Family Clinics, discuss what they did to dramatically improve hypertension control in an effort to prevent heart attacks and strokes. In these presentations, there are several best practice ideas that you might find helpful for treating your patients. The tools of both Phase 1 winning practices can be downloaded from the EHR Innovations for Improving Hypertension Challenge web page. 

Using Health Information Technology tools to improve hypertension control will help us to reach the Million Hearts national goal of preventing one million heart attacks and strokes by the year 2017. It is far better to prevent heart attacks and strokes than to be faced with having to treat them. Much success in using Health IT to be an invaluable enabler in your prevention efforts!

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