ASH announces approval of official health care taxonomy code for Designated Specialists

Today the American Society of Hypertension, Inc. (ASH) and the ASH Specialist Program Inc. announced the approval of an official health care taxonomy code for Designated Specialists in Clinical Hypertension from the American Medical Association National Uniform Claims Committee. The approval of the code will be announced during a special press conference at the start of the Society's 26th Annual Scientific Meeting and Exposition (ASH 2011).

The taxonomy code will help recognize those instances when the services of a Hypertension Specialist are required for patient care and/or diagnostic and treatment procedures. Since 1999, ASH has certified physicians as Hypertension Specialists to help manage the exploding number of patients with high blood pressure, a common, but varied and sometimes complex condition.

Hypertension Specialists--as defined by the ASH Specialist Program--are fully-licensed physicians with a primary board certification who are competent in all aspects of the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, as evidenced by passing a specific examination on these topics offered by the ASH Specialist Program. The use of the code will not affect the current users of the coding system and will not eliminate or exclude any particular group. The code will be effective starting October 1, 2011.

"More than 75 million Americans age 18 and older have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and Hypertension Specialists are needed to help manage the epidemic, especially among patients with difficult-to-treat hypertension, secondary forms of the disease, or with significant co-morbidities," explained George Bakris, MD, Director, Hypertensive Diseases Unit, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and President of ASH. "These physicians will also be critical in the use and implementation of new technology, such as ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, vascular compliance, tests of endothelial function, and advanced assessment of end-organ involvement, including the heart, brain, or kidney."

ASH and the ASH Specialist Program project that 20 percent of adults with hypertension, or 12 million Americans, require the services of a Hypertension Specialist. Thus 6,000 - 9,000 Hypertension Specialists are currently needed. To date, only 1,500 physicians have passed the Hypertension Specialist Examination. A white paper on the role of Hypertension Specialists will be published later this year in The Journal of Clinical Hypertension.

"A recent report from the American Heart Association shows hypertension is the leading culprit in the exploding costs associated with heart disease, chiefly because of its prevalence due to the aging baby boomers and rising obesity rates," explained Thomas D. Giles, MD, Professor of Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, and President of the ASH Specialist Program. "We can help curb the growing epidemic and ensure better patient outcomes by increasing the number of Hypertension Specialists and ensuring proper reimbursement."

Source: American Society of Hypertension

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