Healthcare IT's Chance to Shine

Susan Nunziata, Director of Editorial | 11/16/2012 | 24 comments

Susan Nunziata
Want to give your healthcare IT operation a chance to shine in 2013? Consider entering the Million Hearts Challenge, which will honor US healthcare organizations that use a combination of information technology and medical practices to control hypertension among patients.

Million Hearts was launched this year as a joint initiative of the US Centers for Disease Control and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It is a response to the results of the CDC's Vital Signs report, which found that nearly one in three American adults (67 million) has high blood pressure, and more than half of them (36 million) don’t have it under control.

Entrants to the 2013 contest will need to provide information about their practice, share their verifiable high blood pressure control data, and describe how the use of health information technology, such as electronic health records, incentives for providers and patients, team-based care, attention to medication use and persistence, and community involvement, contributed to success.

Two healthcare organizations were recognized this fall by the Million Hearts initiative as High Blood Pressure Control Champions, and they illustrate the combination of healthcare IT and clinical care needed to advance the cause.

Since January 2008, Denver-based Kaiser Permanente Colorado 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 Ellsworth, Wisc., 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.

According to the CDC, both systems credit the improvement to using electronic health records 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 control.

Is your healthcare organization ready to enter next year's Million Hearts contest? Why not create a steering committee now, including your IT team, doctors, nurses, and administrators, to get the ball rolling? You might save some lives in the process.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
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Syerita Turner   Healthcare IT's Chance to Shine   11/27/2012 8:28:51 AM
Re: Million heart
Very interesting. I think that this is a great way to help to spread the work of being healthy. I really think that the more companies get involved in ensuring that their employees are healthy and keeping up with their health will show that they care about their employees as well as lowering healthcare costs in the long run.
nasimson   Healthcare IT's Chance to Shine   11/24/2012 1:29:42 AM
Re: Million heart
@sohaib: Yes, I totally agree with you. There are numerous amount of apps for mobile phones ( Android/Apple ). Some I even know personally that my friends developed. One of them was an application where you could get an ECG by using an Android app. Marvellous, isnt it?
Susan Nunziata   Healthcare IT's Chance to Shine   11/21/2012 4:38:16 PM
Re: Million heart
@sohaib: excellent point for those in areas where cellular or broadband access is spotty or unreliable. These apps will have to be able to also work "offline" in that case to really be effective. I suppose the only other downside might be traning an older population to use these effectively. While my 80something Aunt Mary is quite tech savvy, there are many other older patients who could have trouble learning how to use these tools. Simplicity in the user interface will be key.
sohaibmasood   Healthcare IT's Chance to Shine   11/20/2012 4:30:03 AM
Re: Million heart
Susan, true. It is hard to think of any downsides to it. The only one that I think may cause problems will be the internet connectivity in remote areas (assuming the apps transfer real time data to servers). Apart from that they are extremely useful. 
sohaibmasood   Healthcare IT's Chance to Shine   11/20/2012 4:26:33 AM
Re: Million heart
Hospice, it has to do with more than the unnecessary trips to the doctor. The apps will help you indentify exactly when you need to actually go to the doctor. When things are not monitored people often ignore going to the medics until they are in some serious trouble. 
Susan Nunziata   Healthcare IT's Chance to Shine   11/19/2012 5:30:00 PM
Re: Million heart
@Hospice_Huongbo: Education is key in helping patients understand the value of EHR and tools such as apps to help them monitor their health. Awareness is growing but there is much still to be done in terms of education and overcoming FUD when it comes to healthcare IT. Initiatives like this one are a step in the right direction.
Susan Nunziata   Healthcare IT's Chance to Shine   11/19/2012 5:27:42 PM
Re: Million heart
@Henrisha: Hear Hear! The key is making these apps and tools easy (and dare I say fun?) for the average person to use every day. And then layer on top of that the ability for health practitioners to have more accurate information about their patients and it's a win-win.
Susan Nunziata   Healthcare IT's Chance to Shine   11/19/2012 5:25:48 PM
Re: Million heart
@sohaib: indeed, preventative care enabled by technologies such as these saves lives are reduces strain on overburdened healthcare systems. It's also a boon for people who are in remote areas far from medical centers or for those who may have difficulty getting to visit doctors due to their medical conditions. Hard to think of any downsides...
Susan Nunziata   Healthcare IT's Chance to Shine   11/19/2012 5:21:47 PM
Re: Well Done
@nasimson: This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can be accomplished if we can achieved standardized electronic medical records and remote care applications that help people live healthy lives. Let's hope it will spur everyone in healthcare IT to work quickly to resolve the standards, privacy and security issues so that we can achieve more of these positive results.
Susan Nunziata   Healthcare IT's Chance to Shine   11/19/2012 5:19:06 PM
Re: Million heart
@singlemud: There are so many challenges facing healthcare IT right now it's nice to see something positive going on. There's still a long way to go, but these kinds of measurable efforts are a great illustration of what the future holds. Hopefully these kinds of recognitions -- not to mention the satisfaction that comes with knowing you are saving lives -- will encourage others to follow suit.
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