About 85 million Americans have hypertension with one out of six unaware they have high blood pressure (BP), according to the American Heart Association, making it a major problem in the U.S. To raise awareness and improve patient health care, Saint Anthony Amofah, MD, prioritizes BP control and management at his Florida office.
Dr. Amofah is the chief medical officer at Community Health of South Florida Inc. (CHI). He is also the chief academic officer for the Brodes H. Hartley Jr. Teaching Health Center at CHI and the medical director of the Health Choice Network.
To advocate for hypertension awareness, Dr. Amofah joined the AMA at the Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion, an event for African-American families. While at the event, he checked patients’ blood pressure and provided educational information for those who had high BP. He also offered further information on what contributes to high BP, lifestyle changes that make a difference and the importance of following up with a physician.
When speaking about the event, Dr. Amofah stated it was “one of the ingenious ways of getting people’s attention” because physicians sometimes don’t get the opportunity to screen patients unless they go to their home or the patient comes into the office.
“Mass screenings draw the attention to folks that might not even know they have high BP or appreciate it. So we have more people becoming aware,” Dr. Amofah said.
“We have the time and we can get their attention,” he added. “This allows us to expand on the level of awareness of high blood pressure.”
Prioritize, manage BP
In Dr. Amofah’s medical practice, blood pressure control remains a top priority at both the staff and patient levels.
“Everyone in the organization knows that blood pressure is important in different ways,” he said. “So we’ve done educational sessions where we talk about the impact of blood pressure in terms of long-term outcomes for patients with hypertension.”
On the leadership level, Dr. Amofah spends significant time and energy to ensure his team understands the impact of hypertension on patient outcomes. He also emphasizes the importance of having leading goals to keep everyone focused and working in concert, as well as to ensure that his organization meets targets set by health plans and funding agencies.
It is also important for leadership to understand the role they play in creating a system that helps promote good BP management and organization. Dr. Amofah works with his team members to ensure they have adequate training and appropriate resources to promote BP control.
“On the patient level, we have visuals that help them understand the importance of BP management and the role they play,” he said.
Use BP tools, raise awareness
To expand on the importance of proper BP management, Dr. Amofah will also participate in AMA’s upcoming self-measured blood pressure monitoring program, a pilot initiative, in partnership with the AHA, to prioritize home monitoring among at-risk patients. Dr. Amofah looks forward to being a champion provider and informing development of the program.
“‘Champion’ meaning I will be leading my team in assessing and checking BP in terms of organizing team meetings, training education and engagement through the AMA,” he said.
Dr. Amofah will also get to share his experience and promote why home monitoring is an important standard practice. He looks forward to learning more about the program’s tools to support identifying at-risk patients and preparing and empowering them to successfully manage BP with personalized tools and resources.
“Since I also see patients directly as an internist, my patients will also have the privilege of using the BP devices,” he added.
One component of AMA and AHA’s pilot program is to formalize a loaner program so patients can have access to reliable BP measurement devices to monitor their blood pressure outside of the clinical setting.
“We will be looking at issues that exist and how to help improve the population,” he said.
The Million Hearts Hypertension Control Challenge is a federal competition to identify clinicians, practices and health systems that have achieved a hypertension control rate of 70 percent or greater among their patients with hypertension and award them with recognition for their work.
Target: BP™ is a national initiative co-led by the American Heart Association and the AMA. In addition to direct access to trained field support specialists, a data platform and a suite of evidenced-based tools and resources offered by the AMA and the AHA, Target: BP offers annual, recurring recognition for all participating sites that achieve hypertension control rates of 70 percent or higher among their adult patient population year over year.