The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has a new challenge to providers: To develop electronic health records tools to improve treatment of hypertension.

The goal of the EHR Innovations for Improving Hypertension Challenge is to “seek practices that have used clinical decision support (CDS) to implement the most clinically successful examples of an evidence-based blood pressure treatment protocol, gather details about these tools and their implementation, and then drive widespread implementation of those tools by other providers.”

The ONC-led challenge is part of Million Hearts, a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. “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. This challenge helps us find the best examples of those efforts and scale them up,” says National HIT Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, M.D.

In Phase 1 of the challenge, which lasts three months from July 7 to October 6, 2014, practices will document the CDS tools they used to implement an evidence-based blood pressure control protocol, as well as describe the details and results of the implementation. Phase 1 will have up to four winners, each of whom will receive a $5,000 prize. Other Phase 1 submitters who provide CDS tools that reviewers select for spreading during Phase 2 dissemination efforts will receive non-monetary recognition.

In Phase 2, which lasts nine months from October 28, 2014-July 31, 2015, practices and their partners will conduct, evaluate and document dissemination strategies for tools identified in Phase 1, emphasizing widespread, effective use of these tools by other practices. Phase 2 will have a single winner of a $30,000 cash prize. Other Phase 2 submitters, whose CDS tool dissemination and implementation strategies the reviewers deem commendable, will receive nonmonetary recognition.

The Federal Register notice announcing the challenge is available here.

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