A community‐wide quality improvement initiative to improve hypertension control and reduce disparities

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Initiatives to improve hypertension control within academic medical centers and closed health systems have been extensively studied, but large community‐wide quality improvement (QI) initiatives have been both less common and less successful in the United States. The authors examined a community‐wide QI initiative across 226 843 patients from 198 practices in nine counties across upstate New York to improve hypertension control and reduce disparities. The QI initiative focused on (a) providing population and practice‐level comparative data, (b) community engagement, especially in underserved communities, and (c) practice‐level quality improvement assistance, but was not designed to examine causality of specific components. Across the nine counties, hypertension control rates improved from 61.9% in 2011 to 69.5% in 2016. Improvements were greatest among whites (73.7%‐81.5%) and more modest among black patients (58.8%‐64.7%). The authors noted a considerable improvement in BP within the group of patients with the highest risk (defined as a BP ≥ 160/100) and a decrease in disparities within this group. The quality collaborative identified five key lessons to help guide future community initiatives: (a) anticipate a plateauing of response; (b) distinguish the needs of disparate populations and create subpopulation‐specific strategies to address and reduce disparities; (c) recognize the variation across low SES practices; (d) remain open to the refinement of outcome measures; and (e) continually seek best practices and barriers to success. Overall, a large community‐wide QI initiative, involving multiple different stakeholders, was associated with improvements in BP control and modest reductions in some targeted disparities.



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