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2018 Million Hearts® Hypertension Control Challenge

Posted March 11, 2018

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), located within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announces the launch of the Million Hearts® Hypertension Control Challenge.

Million Hearts® is a national initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2022. Achieving this goal means 10 million more Americans must have their blood pressure under control. Million Hearts®is working to control high blood pressure through clinical approaches, such as using health information technology to its fullest potential and integrating team-based approaches to health care, and community approaches, such as strengthening tobacco control and promoting physical activity.

To support improved blood pressure control, HHS/CDC is announcing the 2018 Million Hearts® Hypertension Control Challenge.

This competition identifies practices, clinicians, and health systems that have worked with their patients to achieve hypertension control rates at or above 80% through innovations in health information technology and electronic health records, patient communication, and health care team approaches.

The application will be scored based on the hypertension control rate for your most recent 12-month reporting period ending not earlier than December 31, 2017; and the degree to which the patient populations’ characteristics present significant challenges in attaining hypertension control (up to 5% of score).

Applicants with the highest score will be required to participate in a two-phase process to verify their data. Applicant who are non-compliant or non-responsive with the data requests or timelines will be removed from further consideration.

Phase 1 includes verification of the hypertension prevalence and blood pressure control rate data submitted and a background check. For applicants whose Phase 1 data is verified as accurate, phase 2 consists of a medical chart review. In addition, background checks will be conducted by an independent source for individual or small practice applicants to ensure there are no serious sanctions or that other misconduct has occurred (as outlined in the Eligibility section). For large providers or health systems, their background check policy and implementation will be reviewed for compliance with the individual background check protocol. In addition, a health system background check will include a search for The Joint Commission’s sanctions and current investigations for serious institutional misconduct (e.g., investigations for professional medical misconduct).

Phase 2 of the validation, for applicants whose Phase 1 data is verified as accurate, consists of hypertension control validation via medical chart review.

Applicants must provide documents showing the criteria used to include patients as “controlled” and a list with each hypertensive patient found to have blood pressure in control. Thirty patient records will be selected randomly for file review for compliance. For the thirty records selected, electronic copies of all of the pertinent medical records will be submitted through a secure FTP site with a secure login. Criteria for compliance with the measure include having documentation of having at least one outpatient encounter with a diagnosis of hypertension during the first 6 months of the measurement period and evidence that the patient’s most recent blood pressure is adequately controlled (a reading of <140/<90 mmHg).

Performance categories: HIGH (90% – 100% of the records are in compliance with the review criteria); MEDIUM (60% – 89% in compliance); or LOW (less than 60% in compliance).

A CDC-sponsored panel of three to five experts consisting of CDC staff will review the applications that pass phase 2 to select Champions. Final selection of Champions will take into account all the information from the application form, the background check, and data verification and validation. In the event of tie scores at any point in the selection process, geographic location may be taken into account to ensure a broad distribution of champions.

The first Round Finalists will be selected based on a composite score generated from the information on the application form. These applicants will participate in a data validation process.

The application will be scored based on two hypertension control rates: one for your most recent 12-month reporting period ending not earlier than December 31, 2017 and the degree to which the patient population’ characteristics present significant challenges in attaining hypertension control (up to 5% of score).

Judges will confirm that there are no conflicts of interest with any applicants being considered as a Champion.

Some Champions will participate in a post-challenge telephone interview. The interview will include questions about the strategies employed by the individual or organization to achieve high rates of hypertension control, including barriers and facilitators for those strategies. The interview will focus on systems and processes and should not require preparation time by the Champion. The estimated time for the interview is two hours, which includes time to review the interview protocol with the interviewer, respond to the interview questions, and review a summary data about the Champion’s practices. The summary may be written as a success story and posted on the Million Hearts® website.

Up to 35 Champions will be recognized locally and nationally. No cash prize will be awarded. In addition to recognition on the Million Hearts® and CDC websites, national press releases will be initiated to recognize and congratulate Champions. Documentation of clinical systems and strategies champions adopted that support hypertension control will be housed on this website and attributed to Champions.


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