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A million hearts can’t be wrong

I am excited to share that Azara Healthcare is actively supporting the Missouri Primary Care Association (MPCA), the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), and the Million Hearts initiative (sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)), in their effort to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. A key component to achieving this goal is identifying patients with Hypertension and working to make sure they take the actions necessary to keep their blood pressure within safe ranges.

Over the past six months, Azara has worked closely with quality improvement resources from MPCA, NACHC and three Missouri Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) on a project to identify Undiagnosed Hypertension in the Missouri health center patient population and to assure appropriate treatment. The Hiding in Plain Sight (HIPS) program was designed to find patients that may have multiple instances of elevated blood pressure, but no Hypertension diagnosis in their medical record. The results of this pilot project were presented and reviewed in an all-day session at this year’s NACHC Community Health Institute conference in Orlando.

Based on these measures, the Missouri health centers have been able to identify nearly 15,000 patients statewide likely to be Hypertensive but without an active Hypertension diagnosis. The participating centers have established protocols for screening and diagnosing hypertension, and have implemented best practices gleaned from each other and from other participating centers across the nation. One approach is as simple as using a heart-shaped magnet, placed by medical assistants on exam room doors, to indicate a potential hypertensive patients; others are more intensive screenings for patients who seek specialty services but do not have a primary care provider.

The health centers have also focused on standard methodologies for taking consistent blood pressure readings, removing any potential variance in readings due to the location where a reading was taken or a patient’s position during a reading (standing, sitting, supine, etc.). Over the initial six month phase of the program, the number of undiagnosed hypertensive patients decreased by 14 percent, to less than 13,000. A recently initiated second phase of the project will focus on controlling the blood pressure all of patients who are diagnosed with Hypertension, regardless of whether the diagnosis occurred as a result of the HIPS efforts.

As part of this project, Azara has developed and deployed a set of measures designed specifically to assist in identifying and tracking potential Undiagnosed Hypertensive patients. These measures are now available to all Azara DRVS users. Please contact us if you would like them activated within your environment.

Jeff Brandes is President & CEO of Azara Healthcare.