Industry fails to control hypertension

January 1, 2013

National campaign aims to get 80% of patients under control


<articlebody>  <page1>  <paragraph1>  <bold>NATIONAL REPORTS—</bold>Hypertension has been linked to costly medical conditions and often goes unnoticed in the patients it affects. More than 120 medical groups and health systems have placed a renewed focus on hypertension in an attempt to improve prevention, detection and control.  </paragraph1>  <paragraph>Medical groups and health systems across the country have joined together as part of the Measure Up, Pressure Down campaign—an initiative led by the American Medical Group Foundation—with the goal of getting 80% of their patients with high blood pressure under control by 2016. </paragraph>  <paragraph>  <subhead>  <bold>TOO MANY NOT CONTROLLED</bold>  </subhead>  </paragraph>  <paragraph>According to a recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hypertension is estimated to affect approximately one-third of all adults in the United States. More than 53%, of the nearly 23,000 adults included in the study had hypertension that was not controlled. Additionally, the CDC found that nearly 40% were unaware of their hypertension despite 89.4% reporting that they had a usual source of healthcare. </paragraph>  <paragraph>Hypertension has also been linked to significant healthcare spending. According to data from the CDC, high blood pressure was projected to cost the United States $93.5 billion in healthcare services, medications and missed days of work in 2010. </paragraph>  <paragraph>"It's a big problem. It costs a lot of money," says Jerry Penso, MD, American Medical Group Assn.'s (AMGA)chief medical and quality officer. "It's common in the healthcare system and then—here's the punch line—we are not doing a good job with it."  </paragraph>  <paragraph>Dr. Penso, who is leading the campaign, says the American Medical Group Foundation, a non-profit arm of AMGA, believes it has the tools to help groups and physicians find ways to improve prevention, detection and control of hypertension. As part of the campaign, participating medical groups and health systems have also agreed to adopt at least one of campaign's eight care process planks and provide quarterly updates on their progress. </paragraph>  <paragraph>The care process planks, which include ideas such as training medical staff on how to accurately measure blood pressure and instituting better follow-up procedures, were developed by determining what has worked in the past for existing medical groups within the association. </paragraph>  <paragraph>Robert Nesse, MD, chief executive officer of Mayo Clinic Health Systems, says that while the Mayo Clinic has already been doing many things to try to control hypertension, what makes the campaign unique is the number of groups that have come together in support of the goal. </paragraph>  <paragraph>"The thing that is really exciting to us is that this is provider groups from around the country, it's not just one network of providers that all have a common insurance product, and it's not an insurer that is motivating it," he says. "These are independent groups that have said this is in the interest of our patients to get this done."  </paragraph>  <paragraph>While more than 120 medical groups and health systems have joined the effort, Dr. Penso says the scope of the campaign could be even greater. They hope to have about three-quarters of the more than 400 large and medium-size medical groups and healthcare systems it represents agree to participate in the campaign. He says they are also working to partner with a health plan, although currently no health plans are part of the campaign. </paragraph>  <paragraph>"We believe it's very much in alignment with not only national health objectives but even health plans' own objectives to improve their quality scores," he says. </paragraph>  <paragraph>  <subhead>  <bold>MEMBER EDUCATION</bold>  </subhead>  </paragraph>  <paragraph>Health plans could also bring valuable resources to the table, Dr. Penso says, including communication channels with providers, measurement systems to track progress and the ability to assist in publicizing the campaign. </paragraph>  <paragraph> "We believe a big part of this campaign is informing and educating patients, and [health plans] have a lot of ways of reaching their members that could also encourage and, if you will, amplify the message of the campaign," he says. </paragraph>  <paragraph>Don Goldmann, MD, senior vice president for the Institute of Healthcare Improvement and a clinical professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, says he believes that for the healthcare industry to improve prevention and control of high blood pressure, all stakeholders will need to work together.  </paragraph>  <paragraph>"This is such a fundamentally common and straightforward—I am not saying easy to solve—but a straight-forward, evidence-based issue that affects morbidity, mortality and cost, that finding ways to work together synergistically seems very important to me," he says. </paragraph>  </page1>  </articlebody>