ONC tackles hypertension with health IT

By Mike Miliard
10:04 AM
Million Hearts project wants smarter use of EHRs and CDS to fight high blood pressure

The EHR Innovations for Improving Hypertension Challenge, launched this week by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, plans to help prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

[See also: IT helps in the fight against hypertension]

Part of Million Hearts, a nationwide project led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the challenge aims to help  practices put electronic health records and clinical decision support tools to work in reducing high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Evidence-based treatment protocols can offer a "playbook" for providers to help gauge the effectiveness and guide the choice of therapies for controlling blood pressure, according to ONC.

[See also: EMRs could help diagnose high blood pressure in kids]

"Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and there are many healthcare providers who employ clinical decision support tools, like standardized treatment approaches or protocols to control hypertension among their patients," said National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD, in a press statement. "This challenge helps us find the best examples of those efforts and scale them up."

The deadline for submissions is Oct. 6, 2014; winners will be announced on Oct. 28.

Million Hearts encourages providers to improve the quality of care through the ABCS: aspirin when appropriate; blood pressure control; cholesterol management and smoking cessation.

"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, in a statement.

"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," she added. "The new challenge is designed to help patients and their care teams use health IT tools to protect and improve their cardiovascular health"