The Hypertension Initiative began in 1999 to help transition South Carolina from a leader in cardiovascular disease (CVD) to a model of heart and vascular health. Goals were to reduce heart disease and stroke by 50% by promoting healthy lifestyles and access to effective care and medications. Continuing medical education was used to train providers, encourage physicians to become American Society of Hypertension (ASH)-certified hypertension specialists and recruit practices into the community-based practice network (CBPN). Practice data audit with provider specific feedback is a key quality improvement tool. With ASH support, the CBPN has grown to 197 practices with approximately 1.6 million patients (approximately 700,000 hypertensives). Clinical data are obtained from electronic health records and quarterly provider feedback reports are generated. Hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes control rose and South Carolina's ranking improved from 51st to 35th in CVD mortality from 1995 to 2006. The Hypertension Initiative expanded to the Outpatient Quality Improvement Network (O'QUIN) to encompass comparative effectiveness research and other chronic diseases. Lessons learned include: trust enables success, addressing practice priorities powers participation, infrastructure support must be multilateral, and strategic planning identifies opportunities and pitfalls. A collaborative practice network is attainable that produces positive, sustainable, and growing impacts on cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.
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