Do more than just celebrate national health observances this April. Use them as opportunities for quality improvement and to directly impact patient health.
April is National Minority Health Month, dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations by raising awareness of health disparities. The theme of this year’s observance is “Advance Health Equity Now: Uniting our Communities to Bring Health Care Coverage to All”. See this downloadable poster: http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/actnow/templates/Materials.aspx
April 7 is also World Health Day, which marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948. The theme for 2013 is high blood pressure with the goal to reduce heart attacks and strokes worldwide.
Here are some tips for how these can apply directly to quality improvement:
Make controlling blood pressure (BP) a priority in your practice. Get every staff member on board and decide how each will contribute to controlling BP in your patient population.
Measure your performance on controlling high blood pressure in your patient population. For patients with diagnosed hypertension, use PQRS #236 (NQF 18) to measure. For patients without diagnosed hypertension, use PQRS #317.
Segment your population by race, ethnicity, sex and payer. Determine the rate of uncontrolled BP for each segment to see if disparities exist. Decide which solutions may be effective with various population segments. If race/ethnicity isn’t consistently captured, use this brochure to educate staff and patients about the importance of collecting this data: http://www.cdc.gov/minorityhealth/brochures/OMHD.pdf
Identify patients with uncontrolled BP and discuss possible causes. Develop a plan of care with the patient, set goals and actions the patient accepts. Consider potential causes such as access to care, smoking, patient understanding, cultural food preferences, financial, provider/staff commitment to controlling BP, nutrition, not taking medications, and others.
Raise patient awareness of the causes and consequences of high blood pressure and healthy lifestyle. Here’s a good handout: “Know the Facts about High Blood Pressure” http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/docs/ConsumerEd_HBP.pdf
Make BP measurement affordable.
- Missouri has one of 23 CDC-funded WISE WOMAN programs that provide standard preventive services including blood pressure and cholesterol testing. http://www.cdc.gov/wisewoman/locations/index.htm.
- Understand Medicare benefits for Cardiovascular Behavioral Therapy: http://www.medicare.gov/coverage/cardiovascular-disease-behavioral-therapy.html and Cardiovascular Screening http://www.medicare.gov/coverage/cardiovascular-disease-screenings.html .
Join the Million Hearts Campaign and do your part to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years: http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/