The Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today officially kicked off the Million Hearts Hypertension Control Challenge to recognize clinical approaches using health information technology that dramatically improve blood pressure control.

The challenge, which begins Aug. 20 and ends Oct. 20, is an attempt to identify clinicians, clinical practices, and health systems that have exceptional rates of hypertension control. The goal of Million Hearts, a nationwide initiative aimed at preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017, is to get the blood pressure of 10 million Americans under control through clinical approaches using health IT to its “fullest potential and integrating team-based approaches to care,” according to a Federal Register notice.

Challenge entrants will be asked to submit two point-in-time measures of the hypertension control rate for their practice’s or health system’s hypertensive population. One measure is for the previous 12 month period and the second is for the previous 12 to 24 months.

In addition, entrants will be asked to provide the prevalence of hypertension in their population and describe the sustainable systems used by the practice or health system that support continued improvements in blood pressure control and some population characteristics. However, HHS/CDC emphasize in their announcement that the hypertension control rate should be for the provider’s or health system’s entire adult hypertensive patient population and not limited to a sample.

“To support improved quality of care delivered to patients with hypertension, Million Hearts will document the systems, processes, and staffing that contribute to the exceptional blood pressure control rates,” states the notice and recognize them as “Million Hearts Hypertension Control Champions” who will receive a cash prize and local and national recognition.

Up to a total of 20 of highest scoring individual clinicians, clinical practices or health systems will be recognized and will receive a cash award of $2,000. A maximum of $40,000 will be awarded in this challenge.

Additional information about Million Hearts is available here.

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