Kaiser Permanente Colorado Receives Recognition From Health and Human Services Secretary for Excellence in Hypertension Care

Health plan increases hypertension control rate among members from 61 percent to 82.6 percent over three years.

DENVER, Sept. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recognized Kaiser Permanente Colorado as a 2012 Million Hearts Hypertension Control Champion. Million Hearts is a national public-private initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Since January 2008, Kaiser Permanente Colorado's focus on managing hypertension has resulted in an improvement from an initial hypertension control rate of 61 percent to its current control rate of 82.6 percent.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, significantly increases the risk for heart disease or stroke. It is diagnosed following at least two blood pressure readings of 140/90 or higher recorded during an outpatient visit. Nationally, hypertension control rates hover around 50 percent. Tactics used to control high blood pressure may include medication management, regular blood pressure checks, smoking cessation, weight loss and diet modifications.

Organizations that are recognized as Hypertension Control Champions have improved hypertension control rates across their entire patient population and have verifiable data documenting this improvement. This is the first year the designation has been made and its announcement follows the recent release of new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the prevalence of hypertension in the U.S. The CDC and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services co-lead the Million Hearts initiative, which includes a focus on improving blood pressure control to help prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Kaiser Permanente Colorado is one of just two health care providers in the country to be recognized as a 2012 Hypertension Control Champion.

"The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is thrilled to recognize Kaiser Permanente Colorado as a 2012 Hypertension Control Champion," said Secretary Sebelius, during a ceremony at Kaiser Permanente's East Denver Medical Offices. "The health plan's expansive strategy to reach members with uncontrolled hypertension over the past three years has helped many bring their blood pressure under control and brought system-wide changes that will ensure more Coloradans live longer, healthier lives."

"It's an honor to be recognized for this achievement by Secretary Sebelius and Million Hearts," said Donna Lynne, DrPH, president of Kaiser Permanente Colorado. "This award shines the spotlight on Kaiser Permanente's integrated care delivery system as a model for controlling hypertension and improving health outcomes."

Kaiser Permanente was able to achieve such a significant increase in its hypertension control rate among members in Colorado by leveraging its electronic medical record to coordinate outreach to patients with hypertension and manage their care. There were five central components of this patient-centric, integrated strategy:

  1. Registries: Through data derived from Kaiser Permanente's HealthConnect electronic medical record, registries were created to identify members with hypertension. 
  2. Actionable lists: Kaiser Permanente staff then drafted lists to help identify which members did not have their blood pressure under control.
  3. Patient outreach: In order to reach those newly identified members, Kaiser Permanente nurses and other care team representatives worked collaboratively to contact members via phone and email to encourage them to come into local medical offices for blood pressure checks at least once a year and make healthy lifestyle changes.
  4. Managing blood pressure in the office: Evidence based guidelines were implemented for hypertension monitoring and treatment in all Kaiser Permanente Colorado medical offices. Primary care teams and clinical pharmacy staff developed long-term medication management programs for members with hypertension.
  5. Removing barriers: Members with hypertension receive free (no co-pay) blood pressure checks on a walk-in or appointment basis at all Kaiser Permanente Colorado medical offices. Care teams also provide tools to help members successfully monitor their blood pressure at home.

"We were able to achieve a 20 percentage point increase in hypertension control because of the physicians, nurses, medical assistants and clinical pharmacy staff who worked with our members to achieve a common goal," stated Michael Chase, M.D., associate medical director of quality for Kaiser Permanente Colorado. "Ultimately, this substantial improvement means that Kaiser Permanente members are less likely to suffer heart attacks or strokes."

Kaiser Permanente is a proud national partner of Million Hearts. This initiative encourages a targeted focus on the ABCs for people at-risk for heart disease to prevent heart attacks and stroke – Aspirin for people at-risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation.

About Kaiser Permanente Colorado
Kaiser Permanente Colorado is the state's largest nonprofit health plan, proudly working to improve the lives and health of Colorado residents for more than 40 years. Kaiser Permanente Colorado provides comprehensive health care services to more than 535,000 members through 24 medical offices and a network of affiliated hospitals and physicians. On October 1, 2012 Kaiser Permanente will open two new medical offices in Fort Collins and Loveland. The health plan was named "Highest in Member Satisfaction" among Commercial Health Plans by J.D. Power and Associates for the fifth straight year. Kaiser Permanente was also recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as the top-ranked private health plan in Colorado, No. 6 in the nation and one of the top 3 Medicare plans in the U.S. In 2011, Kaiser Permanente proudly directed more than $90 million to community benefit programs to improve the health of all Coloradans. For more Kaiser Permanente news, visit kp.org/newscenter or follow us on twitter @kpcolorado or facebook.com/kpcolorado.

SOURCE Kaiser Permanente Colorado