Altarum to Evaluate the National Hypertension Control Initiative

April 14, 2022

The National Hypertension Control Initiative (NHCI) formed as a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Office of Minority Health (OMH), seeks to address disparities in hypertension control among racial and ethnic minority populations. Through the NHCI, health centers serving a significant number of hypertensive patients with poorly controlled blood pressure receive funding to increase provider and staff engagement in implementing evidence-based practices to improve clinical quality measures for hypertension control. In support of up to 150 health centers participating in NHCI, Altarum and partner Arbor Research Collaborative for Health have been awarded a 27-month contract by the HRSA Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) to provide training, technical assistance, measurement, and evaluation services. 

The NHCI comes at a critical time. Nearly half of adults in the United States have hypertension, or high blood pressure, with the prevalence of both hypertension and uncontrolled hypertension highest among non-Hispanic Black adults. Hypertension is reported as one of the most common comorbidities in patients with Covid-19—including those who develop the acute respiratory distress syndrome associated with the virus. Given this association, evidence-based interventions targeting hypertension prevention and management are crucial to achieving health equity and enhancing population health across the nation. 

Altarum has extensive experience leading multistate and national improvement collaboratives, delivering innovative clinical and data exchange solutions, and providing direct quality improvement advisement to clinicians pursuing better approaches to care. For this initiative, Altarum’s Danielle Vibbert, MPH, MCHES, will direct the team in performing ongoing quantitative and qualitative monitoring efforts. The team will engage participating health centers to collect and analyze required NHCI program progress, using the data to identify and document key health center accomplishments and challenges. The team will further leverage the data results to inform technical assistance needs to help participating health centers address common barriers and share promising practices.  

“Altarum’s evaluation and technical assistance skills and past successes in engaging clinical practices allow us to hit the ground running to support NHCI participating centers,” said Altarum Vice President of Population Health Tara Fowler. “Improving cardiovascular health and Covid-19 outcomes aligns with our mission to improve the health of individuals with fewer financial resources and populations disenfranchised by the health care system.” 

For additional clinical and evaluation support, Altarum has partnered with Arbor Research Collaborative for Health. Arbor Research brings deep expertise in biostatistics, epidemiology, clinical medicine, evaluation design, and data collection, analysis, and reporting. Arbor Research Vice President of Clinical Research Bruce Robinson, MD, MS, FASN, a VA hospital-based nephrologist who frequently consults on the management of complex hypertension, will serve as the clinical lead on the project.  

“We are excited to partner with Altarum to support this work through our data collection and evaluation expertise,” said Dr. Robinson. “From a clinical standpoint, I am well aware of the importance of managing hypertension due to its contributions to a myriad of outcomes—including kidney failure. Interventions at the primary care level like NHCI are essential to stemming the progression of complex chronic disease.” 

Arbor Research President and Chief Executive Officer, Christopher Spera, PhD, will provide evaluation support and adds, “Arbor Research is honored to support HRSA on this important evaluation.” 

Altarum and Arbor Research’s use of performance- and evidence-based assessments will work to maximize the success for health center performance. By improving hypertension control among racial and ethnic minority populations through clinical interventions, NHCI will also improve health outcomes for those most at risk of COVID-19 related complications. Given the disproportionate toll of the pandemic, this is a crucial step in reducing disparities and improving health for more Americans. 


Tara Fowler
Vice President, Population Health