Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

CPI 99-275 – HSR Study

CPI 99-275
Guidelines for Drug Therapy of Hypertension: Multi-Site Implementation
Mary K. Goldstein, MD MS
VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA
Palo Alto, CA
Funding Period: October 2000 - September 2005
Hypertension, the most commonly reported medical problem in veterans, is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Lowering blood pressure decreases the risk of these adverse clinical outcomes. Widely promoted evidence-based clinical practice guidelines set target blood pressures for adequate control, yet most hypertensives, including VA patients, do not meet the targets. Guidelines also call for use of specific drugs depending on the patient's pattern of comorbid characteristics; yet, clinicians often prescribe drugs that are not guideline-concordant.

The long term objective of this work is to contribute to the VA's ability to respond flexibly to rapidly evolving medical knowledge by establishing a system guidelines that can be used throughout the VA nationally for implementing multiple different clinical practice. In collaboration with Stanford Medical Informatics we developed an automated decision support system for hypertension management, known as ATHENA DSS built with EON technology for guideline-based decision support. ATHENA DSS incorporates hundreds of knowledge rules to operationalize guidelines for hypertension.

ATHENA DSS combines patient information from VistA with an automated knowledge base of hypertension to generate patient-specific recommendations for management of hypertension that are displayed to primary care clinicians in pop-up windows in the VA’s Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS) when the record for appropriate patients is opened on the day of scheduled primary care clinic visits. The ATHENA DSS pop-up provides advice on adequacy of control of blood pressure and specific recommendations for drug therapy of hypertension, a visual display of the patient’s medication history and concurrent blood pressures, evidence supporting the main recommendations, and other information. We deployed the system at three VA medical centers--Durham, San Francisco, and Palo Alto—and conducted a clinician-randomized trial. We logged data on use of the system, monitored comments entered by clinicians, and conducted a questionnaire survey of clinicians. We planned analyses of impact on clinician prescribing and patient blood pressures. We planned preparation for dissemination of the system to additional VA medical centers.

We have established the feasibility of developing a knowledge base of the hypertension guideline, integrating it with patient data from VistA, and deploying this system that provides recommendations for management of a chronic disease, based on complex reasoning, in actual primary care clinics in geographically diverse VA settings. Baseline data showed that clinicians frequently overestimated their guideline adherence (Steinman et al). Over a 15-month trial period, we displayed advisories to 91 primary care clinicians about 10,806 distinct patients with hypertension. Clinicians interacted with the system far more extensively than is typical for automated decision support for chronic problems, suggesting that they find it both useful and usable (Goldstein et al). We showed how an encoded knowledge base in a clinical domain may be as part of automated system for quality assessment (Advani et al). Results for clinician prescribing and impact on blood pressure will be reported at a professional meeting in late 2005. Monitoring of clincian comments entered to the pop-up window allowed early detection and correction of rare data problems suggesting that on-going monitoring should be part of implementation of new health information technology (Chan et al 2005). We are preparing materials for dissemination including a streamlined installation procedure and a documentation manual. We are working with VA Office of Information to improve integration with CPRS including real-time data extraction and write-back of blood pressures.

This project has shown that it is feasible to deploy an automated decision support system for clinical practice guideline implementation in a chronic disease domain, and that clinicians use the system extensively, speaking to its usefulness and usability. Such systems can potentially improve guideline concordance of clinical practice. The project has wide-reaching implications because the technology used to develop the ATHENA DSS can also be used to develop automated decision support in other clinical domains, as part of quality improvement strategies for chronic disease.

External Links for this Project

Dimensions for VA

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

Learn more about Dimensions for VA.

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
    Search Dimensions for this project


Journal Articles

  1. Siegel D, Lopez J, Meier J, Goldstein MK, Lee S, Brazill BJ, Matalka MS. Academic detailing to improve antihypertensive prescribing patterns. American journal of hypertension. 2003 Jun 1; 16(6):508-11. [view]
  2. Szeto HC, Coleman RK, Gholami P, Hoffman BB, Goldstein MK. Accuracy of computerized outpatient diagnoses in a Veterans Affairs general medicine clinic. The American journal of managed care. 2002 Jan 1; 8(1):37-43. [view]
  3. Advani A, Jones N, Shahar Y, Goldstein MK, Musen MA. An intelligent case-adjustment algorithm for the automated design of population-based quality auditing protocols. Medinfo. 2004 Sep 1; 11(Pt 2):1003-7. [view]
  4. Peralta CA, Shlipak MG, Wassel-Fyr C, Bosworth H, Hoffman B, Martins S, Oddone E, Goldstein MK. Association of antihypertensive therapy and diastolic hypotension in chronic kidney disease. Hypertension. 2007 Sep 1; 50(3):474-80. [view]
  5. Shankar RD, Martins SB, Tu SW, Goldstein MK, Musen MA. Building an explanation function for a hypertension decision-support system. Medinfo. 2001 Oct 1; 10(Pt 1):538-42. [view]
  6. Steinman MA, Fischer MA, Shlipak MG, Bosworth HB, Oddone EZ, Hoffman BB, Goldstein MK. Clinician awareness of adherence to hypertension guidelines. The American journal of medicine. 2004 Nov 15; 117(10):747-54. [view]
  7. Chan AS, Coleman RW, Martins SB, Advani A, Musen MA, Bosworth HB, Oddone EZ, Shlipak MG, Hoffman BB, Goldstein MK. Evaluating provider adherence in a trial of a guideline-based decision support system for hypertension. Medinfo. 2004 Sep 1; 11(Pt 1):125-9. [view]
  8. Lin ND, Martins SB, Chan AS, Coleman RW, Bosworth HB, Oddone EZ, Shankar RD, Musen MA, Hoffman BB, Goldstein MK. Identifying barriers to hypertension guideline adherence using clinician feedback at the point of care. AMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings / AMIA Symposium. AMIA Symposium. 2006 Jan 1; 494-8. [view]
  9. Shankar RD, Tu SW, Martins SB, Fagan LM, Goldstein MK, Musen MA. Integration of textual guideline documents with formal guideline knowledge bases. Proc AMIA Symp. 2001 Jan 1; 617-21. [view]
  10. Chan AS, Shankar RD, Coleman RW, Matins SB, Hoffman BB, Goldstein MK. Leveraging point-of-care clinician feedback to study barriers to guideline adherence. AMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings / AMIA Symposium. AMIA Symposium. 2009 Mar 9; 915. [view]
  11. Tu SW, Musen MA, Shankar R, Campbell J, Hrabak K, McClay J, Huff SM, McClure R, Parker C, Rocha R, Abarbanel R, Beard N, Glasgow J, Mansfield G, Ram P, Ye Q, Mays E, Weida T, Chute CG, McDonald K, Molu D, Nyman MA, Scheitel S, Solbrig H, Zill DA, Goldstein MK. Modeling guidelines for integration into clinical workflow. Medinfo. 2004 Sep 1; 11(Pt 1):174-8. [view]
  12. Martins SB, Lai S, Tu S, Shankar R, Hastings SN, Hoffman BB, Dipilla N, Goldstein MK. Offline testing of the ATHENA Hypertension decision support system knowledge base to improve the accuracy of recommendations. AMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings / AMIA Symposium. AMIA Symposium. 2009 Nov 18; 539-43. [view]
  13. Bosworth HB, Dudley T, Olsen MK, Voils CI, Powers B, Goldstein MK, Oddone EZ. Racial differences in blood pressure control: potential explanatory factors. The American journal of medicine. 2006 Jan 1; 119(1):70.e9-15. [view]
  14. Bosworth HB, Olsen MK, Goldstein MK, Orr M, Dudley T, McCant F, Gentry P, Oddone EZ. The veterans' study to improve the control of hypertension (V-STITCH): design and methodology. Contemporary clinical trials. 2005 Apr 1; 26(2):155-68. [view]
  15. Goldstein MK, Coleman RW, Tu SW, Shankar RD, O'Connor MJ, Musen MA, Martins SB, Lavori PW, Shlipak MG, Oddone E, Advani AA, Gholami P, Hoffman BB. Translating research into practice: organizational issues in implementing automated decision support for hypertension in three medical centers. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA. 2004 Sep 1; 11(5):368-76. [view]
  16. Tu SW, Hrabak KM, Campbell JR, Glasgow J, Nyman MA, McClure R, McClay J, Abarbanel R, Mansfield JG, Martins SM, Goldstein MK, Musen MA. Use of declarative statements in creating and maintaining computer-interpretable knowledge bases for guideline-based care. AMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings / AMIA Symposium. AMIA Symposium. 2006 Nov 1; 784-8. [view]
Book Chapters

  1. Goldstein M, Hoffman B. Graphical displays to improve guideline-based therapy of hypertension. In: Izzo JJ, Black H, editors. Hypertension Primer. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins; 2003. [view]

  1. Chan AS, Martins S, Coleman R, Bosworth H, Oddone E, Shlipak M, Tu S, Musen M, Hoffman B, Goldstein M. Post-fielding surveillance of a guideline-based decision support system. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2005 Jan 1. 331-339 p. Report No.: 05-0021-1. [view]
Conference Presentations

  1. Steinman MA, Fischer MA, Bosworth HB, Schlipak MG, Oddone EZ, Goldstein MK. Are clinicians aware of their adherence to hypertension guidelines? Paper presented at: Society of General Internal Medicine California / Hawaii Regional Annual Meeting; 2003 May 1; San Diego, CA. [view]
  2. Fischer MA, Steinman MA, Bosworth HB, Oddone EZ, Shilpak M, Goldstein MK. Barriers to use of clinical practice guidelines: Pre-implementation data from the ATHENA project. Paper presented at: Society of General Internal Medicine Annual Meeting; 2003 Jan 1; Vancouver, Canada. [view]
  3. Goldstein M, Coleman R, Tu S, Marins S, Bosworth HB, Chan A. Clinician Interactions with an Automated Clinical Decision Support System for Managing Hypertension in Primary Care Clinics. Paper presented at: AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting; 2005 Jun 1; Boston, MA. [view]
  4. Goldstein MK, Coleman RW, Tu SW, Shanikar RD, O'Connor MJ, Musen MA, Martin SBLavori, Shilpak MG, Oddone EZ, Advani AA, Hoffman BB. Clinicians interaction with a hypertension decision support system integrated into workflow at primary care clinics. Paper presented at: Society for Medical Decision Making Annual Meeting; 2002 Nov 1; Boston, MA. [view]
  5. Goldstein MK, Hoffman BB, Musen MA, Coleman RE, Martins S, Tu S, Shankar R, Shilpak M, Oddone EZ, Bosworth HB. Clinicians' use of ATHENA DSS hypertension guideline decision support system in primary care clinics. Paper presented at: VA HSR&D National Meeting; 2003 Feb 1; Washington, DC. [view]
  6. Lin ND, Martins SB, Michel M, Kirby A, Chan A, Fischer M, Steinman M, Bosworth HB, Goldstein MK. Impact of a decision support system for hypertension management (ATHENA-HTN) on new thiazide use among patients with uncomplicated hypertension. Paper presented at: VA HSR&D National Meeting; 2007 Feb 22; Arlington, VA. [view]
  7. Goldstein MK, Martins S, Coleman R, Chan A, Shlipak M, Oddone E, Bosworth H, Harris AHS, Lavori P, Hoffman B. Impact of the ATHENA decision support system for hypertension management on primary care clinicians' prescription behavior and patient blood pressure. Paper presented at: Society of General Internal Medicine New England Regional Annual Meeting; 2005 Oct 1; Boston, MA. [view]
  8. Michel M, Martins SB, Chan A, Lin N, Goldstein MK. Usage and perception of ATHENA-Hypertension DSS by primary care clinicians. Presented at: National Library of Medicine Informatics Training Course; 2007 Jun 27; Palo Alto, CA. [view]
  9. Michel M, Martins SB, Lin N, Kirby A, Hoffman B, Steinman M, Bosworth H, Oddone E, Fischer M, Goldstein MK. Usage and perceptions of ATHENA Hypertension Decision Support System by primary care physicians. Poster session presented at: VA HSR&D National Meeting; 2007 Feb 22; Arlington, VA. [view]

DRA: Health Systems
DRE: Technology Development and Assessment
Keywords: Clinical practice guidelines, Decision support, Pharmaceuticals
MeSH Terms: none

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.