Many patients with hypertension who are uninsured or are from underserved communities in the US are not diagnosed and remain untreated, increasing their chances of developing heart disease and stroke, according to a report from The Joint Commission.

The study in the March 2018 issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety describes how 10 health centers with a high prevalence of hypertension in their patient population used electronic health record (EHR) analysis to identify patients potentially
suffering from hypertension to ultimately improve their diagnoses.

In the article, researchers used a computerized algorithm to help staff identify patients with multiple elevated blood pressure readings. These patients were then contacted and brought in to determine if they needed treatment for hypertension.

After implementation of the algorithm-based interventions, diagnosed hypertension prevalence increased from 34.5% to 36.7%. A cohort of patients was tracked from 8 of the 10 health centers to assess follow-up evaluation and diagnosis rates; 65.2 percent completed a follow-up evaluation, of whom 31.9% received a hypertension diagnosis.

In an accompanying editorial, Stephen D. Persell, MD, MPH, discusses how a population health strategy driven by EHR data is being used to address the diagnosis of hypertension in health centers that provide care to underserved populations and communities.