hands on desk

We had the privilege of having a conversation with Dr. Susan Newman, a Lead Physician with the Grand Island Clinic, earlier this week on her efforts to improve hypertension rates among her patients.

Over a one year time span, Dr. Newman has had an increase of 6 percent in her hypertension control rate. We were drawn to Dr. Newman’s improvement and wanted to learn more about her efforts that led to this improvement.Susan Newman, MD

It was clear as we talked, that Dr. Newman has a passion about preventative care and disease prevention. Her love of educating the patient extends to her actions…”If I can do something to keep a patient off a prescription I will do it!”  Spending time to educate the patient on what they can do to improve their blood pressure is a standard practice in the clinic.

“The biggest thing we have done is to remove the barrier of access to care.”

Dr Newman encourages her patients to walk-into the clinic for blood pressure checks. The clinic offers screenings with no appointment, which has been well-received.  “If I make a change in medication, I encourage the patient to ‘walk -in’ next week to have a nurse recheck their blood pressure. If individuals do not have to reschedule or wait for a blood pressure recheck, they are more likely to come back and get it done.”

In addition, individuals are encouraged and given the education needed to do self-monitoring at home. Blood pressure cuffs are available at a lower cost, began by a partnership with a local pharmacy.

“The biggest barrier to hypertension control is that individuals with blood pressure disease often don’t have symptoms. Therefore, the education piece is so important.”

Dr. Newman added, “We care about our patients; we want them to monitor their blood pressure. We want them to understand their numbers and know what they can do for improved health.” This message begins with Dr. Newman and is reiterated by the entire care team. The nursing team offers blood pressure screenings, re-checks and offers follow-up information as well as education. She added, “It truly is a team approach.”

Cindy Tuxhorn, LPN, a patient care coordinator at Grand Island Clinic, relayed the patient care coordinator team posts dashboards at highly-accessed spots within the clinics {i.e., the printing stations) to showcase and highlight the clinics’ current rates. This allows for transparency, an understanding of trends and provides the opportunity to identify areas for improvement. Dashboards are updated and posted regularly.

“Dr. Newman has been a real champion and has been a great influence and motivates all the staff in the clinic to make improvements,” added Tuxhorn.

In the last year, the clinic has made an emphasis to focus on the Annual Wellness Visit.  “We call patients to schedule.  If they are in the clinic for an acute reason, we will schedule an Annual Wellness visit. The Wellness Visit helps us address any issues, like hypertension and stress treatment options and lifestyle changes for preventative health.”

Dr. Newman continued, “We look at treating the whole individual, rather than the disease. We emphasize the importance of preventive visits. Our team promotes routine wellness visits with our current patients. These wellness visits are promoted at all opportunities; we are currently looking for ways to spread the message beyond our current patient population.”

Dr. Newman emphasizes the importance of the provider/patient relationship as well as the benefits of positive reinforcement. “I like to point out and emphasize improvements in my patients. Rather than focusing on the negatives or things that need to be worked on, I will comment on weight loss or lowering of blood pressure or cholesterol numbers. When I recognize the things they are doing correctly  they are much more accepting of coming in for follow up.  They offer up what they can change and have been doing to improve.  I see them smiling and they are pleased with their efforts.”

Incorporated in 1922, the Grand Island Clinic is a multi-specialty group practice located in Grand Island, Nebraska.