May 26, 2015

Healthy Hearts Northwest helps small and mid-sized practices

AHRQ funds Group Health, Qualis Health, and OHSU for partnership in Wash., Ore., and Idaho

SEATTLE—The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) wants all patients and providers to benefit from the latest research on how best to prevent and detect diseases—and to care for people who have them. A prime example is heart disease, the nation’s number-one killer. That’s why AHRQ has funded the MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation at Group Health Research Institute for three years to lead one of seven regional partnerships throughout the nation both to improve heart health among patients in primary care practices and to be better able to improve the quality of care they deliver. It builds on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Million Hearts® initiative, with a goal to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes nationwide by 2017.

With partners at Qualis Health, the Oregon Rural Practice Research Network (ORPRN) at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), and the Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS), on May 1 the MacColl Center started inviting small- and medium-sized primary-care practices in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho to participate in Healthy Hearts Northwest: Improving Practice Together. Of the 320 practices to be enrolled, 150 will be in Washington, 130 in Oregon, and 40 in Idaho.

Practices that participate will receive at least 15 months of practice support, technical assistance for health information technology (IT), coaching in quality improvement (QI), and chances to participate in workshops to build QI competencies. The project will use practice facilitation, the Institute for Health Improvement (IHI) improvement model, and data management to improve patients’ measures of heart health.

“Healthy Hearts Northwest is an unprecedented opportunity for primary care to prove to the nation that we can make a difference in cardiovascular health at a scale never before tested,” said the principal investigator of Health Hearts Northwest, Michael L. Parchman, MD, MPH, a Group Health Research Institute senior investigator and director of the MacColl Center. “Practices that participate will receive resources, support, and a ‘roadmap’ to build their capacity to really do quality improvement well.”

The MacColl Center, the recipient of the $13.7 million grant, will coordinate all project-related activities, including collecting information for evaluation and reporting results. The Center will co-develop activities including enrolling practices, training practice coaches, monthly learning webinars, and outreach visits by academic experts. The MacColl Center, Qualis Health, and OHSU’s Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network all have in common that they are leaders in transforming primary care, with expertise in the medical home, coordinating care, primary care team, and health IT.

This project is supported by grant number R18HS023908 from the AHRQ. The content is solely the responsibility of the researchers and does not necessarily represent the official views of the AHRQ.


Healthy Hearts Northwest is part of EvidenceNOW: Advancing Heart Health in Primary Care, the AHRQ grant initiative to transform health care delivery. Today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced awards of $112 million to regional cooperatives to work with about 5,000 primary care professionals in 12 states to improve the heart health of their nearly 8 million patients. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. EvidenceNOW: Advancing Heart Health in Primary Care will help primary care practices in both urban and rural communities use the latest evidence to encourage efforts for Better Care, Smarter Spending, and Healthier People. Today’s awards are aligned with the Department’s and Million Hearts® national initiative to prevent heart attacks and stroke.

The EvidenceNOW initiative establishes seven regional cooperatives composed of multidisciplinary teams of experts that will each provide quality improvement services to up to 300 small primary care practices. These services include onsite coaching, consultation from experts in health care delivery improvement, sharing best practices, and electronic health record support. This initiative will help small primary care practices incorporate the most recent evidence on how best to deliver the ABCs of cardiovascular prevention into their patients’ care:

  • Aspirin use by high-risk individuals,
  • Blood pressure control,
  • Cholesterol management, and
  • Smoking cessation.

“The goal of the EvidenceNOW initiative is to give primary care practices the support they need to help patients live healthier and longer,” said Secretary Burwell. “By targeting smaller practices, we have a unique opportunity to reduce cardiovascular risk factors for hundreds of thousands of patients, and learn what kind of support results in better patient outcomes.”

In addition, an eighth awardee will receive a grant to conduct an independent external evaluation of the overall EvidenceNOW initiative. The evaluation team will study the impact of the EvidenceNOW interventions on practice improvement and the delivery of cardiovascular care. The evaluation team will also study which practice supports and quality improvement strategies are most effective in improving the implementation of new evidence. The seven implementation grants will run for three years, and the evaluation grant for four years.

Together, these grants represent one of the largest research investments to date by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Funding for this initiative comes from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund created by the Affordable Care Act.

For more information about AHRQ’s EvidenceNOW initiative, including details on each of the grantees and cooperatives, visit: For more information about Million Hearts, visit

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, which supports research and is designed to improve the outcomes and quality of healthcare. Additionally, the organization seeks to reduce costs, address patient safety and medical errors and broaden access to effective services. The AHRQ conducts and sponsors research, which helps people make more informed decisions and improve the quality of healthcare services.

Qualis Health

Qualis Health is one of the nation’s leading population health management organizations, and a leader in improving care delivery and patient outcomes, working with clients throughout the public and private sector to advance the quality, efficiency and value of healthcare for millions of Americans every day. We deliver solutions to ensure that our partners transform the care they provide, with a focus on process improvement, care management and effective use of health information technology. For more information, visit

Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN)

the Oregon Rural Practice Research Network (ORPRN) began as the nation’s only all-rural practice-based research network (PBRN) in 2002 and is a part of at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU)’s outreach programs. ORPRN’s mission is to improve the health of Oregonians by promoting knowledge transfer between communities and clinicians. ORPRN includes 161 clinicians in 49 primary care practices in across all of the Oregon, providing care for over 245,000 patients and is overseen by an 11-member clinician Steering Committee. The network employs regional Practice Enhancement and Research Coordinators (PERCs) to conduct research and support member clinics. ORPRN works with diverse primary care practices to improve processes of care, understand practice culture, evaluate improvement efforts, and enable practice transformation.

Oregon Health & Science University

Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) is the state’s only academic health center. It provides an uncommon array of services from providing the state’s most comprehensive health care, to educating the next generation of clinicians and biomedical researchers, to achieving breakthroughs and innovations. Its hospitals and clinics serve more than a quarter of a million patients every year with innovative care and treatment models based on the latest knowledge available.


The Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS) is dedicated to speeding science to the clinic for the benefit of patients and communities throughout Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. ITHS promotes this translation of scientific discovery to practice by fostering innovative research, cultivating multi-disciplinary research partnerships, and ensuring a pipeline of next generation researchers through robust educational and career development programs. Learn more at

MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation

The MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation bridges the worlds of health services research and health care delivery to inform and improve both. The MacColl Center is a research organization located within the Group Health Research Institute that shares its commitment to publicly available practical research. Launched in 1992, the Center was named for a pioneering Group Health physician and leader, William “Sandy” MacColl. Through our work with health systems and funding agencies we develop new models of health care, lead research on complex system change, and provide training, facilitation and technical assistance in model application and care improvement. Nearly 20 years ago, the MacColl Center developed the widely adopted Chronic Care Model. Shortly after, we developed the Patient Assessment of Chronic Illness Care (PACIC) and Assessment of Chronic Illness Care (ACIC) instruments.  Our tools continue to influence the delivery of care to patients around the world. Today we maintain an emphasis on collaborating with delivery systems that care for the poorest and most vulnerable patients, and on work that's organized with the patient at the center of the care experience.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 12.4 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to:

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