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2012 Million Hearts Recognition Ceremony

September 17, 2012
Denver, Colorado


It’s great to be here with you today because what’s happening here at Kaiser is what we want to see happen across the country.

We all know there are health systems, hospitals, and clinics across America that are delivering consistent, high quality care.  They’re doing it by emphasizing key principles like improving care coordination and promoting prevention.  The result is healthier patients, happier doctors, and often, significant savings. 

Unfortunately, far too much of our health care system falls short of that standard.

While no one expects that 100 percent of patients will be able to bring their high blood pressure under control, for example, we know we can do much better than we do today. 

So over the last three years, we in the Obama Administration have undertaken an ambitious effort to help ensure that all Americans receive the highest quality care.

That includes the public-private partnerships in the Million Hearts initiative that you’ve just heard about.  But that’s only the start.

We’re also supporting new models like accountable care organizations that make it easier for doctors and nurses to work together.  We’ve already had more than 150 health organizations around the country sign up.

We’re helping doctors and hospitals adopt electronic health records.  And in just three years, we’ve seen the share of office-based doctors using a basic electronic health record double from 17 percent to 34 percent. 

We eliminated out-of-pocket costs for preventive services like cardiovascular disease screenings in Medicare and all new health plans – a benefit more than 86 million Americans have already taken advantage of.

And because we know that health is not just determined by what happens in the doctor’s office, we’re also supporting community efforts to promote healthy lifestyles.  In fact, I just came from an event at Lowry Elementary School where Education Secretary Arne Duncan and I saw how the school has made exercise a regular part of the school day as part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move Campaign.

All of these efforts contribute to the goals of Million Hearts.  And I can promise you that this Administration is going to keep supporting innovations that help people live long, healthy, productive lives with lower health care costs.

But the truth is that no matter how much support we offer or how much we shift incentives, improvement cannot happen without courageous local leaders who refuse to accept the status quo.

Leaders who commit to excelling in areas like blood pressure control and engage their entire staffs in that effort.  Leaders who insist on regularly measuring their performance, focusing on measures that affect patient outcomes.  Leaders who use electronic health records effectively to ensure that all patients get the right care at the right time.  And leaders who work closely with patients to help them be more engaged in their health.

That’s why I’m so pleased to recognize Kaiser Permanente Colorado as a Blood Pressure Control Champion.  Through their leadership, they are not only improving health and saving lives right here in Colorado.  They’re also serving as a role model for the rest of the country.

So congratulations to everyone who was a part of this achievement. I hope you will continue to blaze a trail for the rest of the country to follow.

Thank you.