How does your national campaign measure up?
Kendra Gaskins, director and Shannon Walsh, communications & partnership coordinator, at the American Medical Group Association, met with us to discuss their company’s health-centric national campaign, Measure Up/Pressure Down™. The Measure Up/Pressure Down™ team selected Dodge Communications to help support campaign awareness strategies and media relations efforts.
Why did your organization choose to start a campaign focused on high blood pressure?
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a one of the biggest health challenges facing the nation. More than 68 million adults have the disease and many do not have it under control or even know they have the disease. It can also lead to stroke or heart disease, two of America’s top causes of death.
The American Medical Group Foundation (AMGF) has a long history in quality improvement initiatives and research on better ways to improve healthcare. During collaborative research projects, for instance, member groups work together to develop tools and programs for improving health outcomes, lowering the cost of care and increasing patient satisfaction – what we refer to as the “triple aim.”
AMGF conducted two collaboratives on managing hypertension with 30 member groups, and found that most of them were able to improve high blood pressure control, often above 80% and some even to 90%. We felt this information about how to systemically improve outcomes was too valuable to limit to just the participating 30 groups, so we decided to launch this national campaign to inspire and motivate medical groups throughout the U.S. to improve blood pressure control by 2016.
What are the most challenging aspects of launching a national campaign?
Prior to this campaign, the American Medical Group Association (AMGA) had never taken on a national initiative of this size and scope. As an organization, we really kept our work in improving care within the family – at our AMGA meetings or on our website so, we did not have the track record of a national quality organization that would drive media or fundraising. We have built the program step-by-step, leveraged our incredible medical group assets, and partnered with like-minded organizations with common goals like the American Heart Association, Million Hearts®, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and others to learn how to best do this type of national campaign.
We’re happy to share that just over one year into the Measure Up/Pressure Down™ campaign, our efforts are now being recognized at the national level. The campaign recently received the 2013 Heart Healthy, Stroke Free award from the National Forum on Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. Three of our groups were also named 2013 Million Hearts® Hypertension Control Champions, based on improvement in blood pressure control. We look forward to even more success as we continue to make our name and work known in the quality space.
What strategies have you found most successful when related to educating your target audiences?
The Measure Up/Pressure Down™ campaign focuses on two key audiences – patients and healthcare providers. While each audience has its unique challenges, we’ve found that making things as clear and easy as possible creates tremendous success.
As we mentioned, patients who have or are at risk for high blood pressure often do not know it – nearly one in three American adults has high blood pressure, less than half do not have it under control and 20 percent do not know they have the disease at all. That’s why our patient education component teaches adults about high blood pressure, its dangers and its risk factors. By providing the basic facts and resources a patient needs to determine if they have or are at risk for the disease, we can then encourage them to talk with a provider and measure, monitor and maintain a healthy blood pressure.
We know that medical groups have many competing priorities outside of direct patient care – changes in insurance and reimbursement, mergers and expanding markets, and all the other challenges of running successful organizations. While these groups undoubtedly understand hypertension and its dangers from the medical side of things, they do not always know the best way to consistently get the disease under control in large patient populations from provider to provider or site to site. That’s why Measure Up/Pressure Down™ worked tirelessly to condense the best practices learned from our collaboratives into eight “campaign planks” (evidence-based care processes) that each make a different in control rates. Groups can implement just one plank and see the progress – it’s not a burden for them.
What are the most important lessons you have learned throughout this campaign?
The most important lesson – dating back to the planning of the campaign and continuing to present – has been to surround ourselves with like-minded organizations that also aim to improve healthcare quality, lower cost and provide better patient outcomes. Our stance has been to collaborate with and boost existing efforts, so that collectively we can truly make an impact.
We would not be able to move the needle in blood pressure control without the support and commitment of nearly 150 AMGA medical groups and health systems that directly reach and treat patients on a daily basis. Likewise, partnerships with 12 national organizations, including a number working in similar disease states like heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease, have allowed the campaign to extend its important messages and reach key provider and patient audiences. Our eight sponsor organizations also provide the monetary support to allow Measure Up/Pressure Down™ to lead a successful nationwide campaign.
What advice would you give to any person/organization interested in launching a disease-centric national campaign?
Plan, plan and plan again. And have concrete timelines and goals and clearly defined processes to achieve success.
Long before the campaign officially launched, we worked closely with our AMGF Board of Directors, National Steering Committee and Scientific Advisory Council to identify the three crucial elements necessary to make a national campaign for blood pressure control a reality:
- A concrete, time-limited goal (e.g., 80% of patients in control by 2016),
- Defined, easily understood and adopted care processes (hence the eight “campaign planks”) and
- An evaluation process to track progress throughout the campaign and confirm the goal had been reached (we work with the nearly 150 participating groups to gather and analyze their hypertension data).
By strategically planning for these three elements, Measure Up/Pressure Down™ was in a place to make an immediate impact – and measure it – when the campaign launched.