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Home » About ASH » ASH News » New Taxonomy Code

ASH unveils new Taxonomy Code to recognize and support important role of hypertension specialists in managing growing epidemic

President of ASH and President of ASH Specialist Program Announce New Code and other Key Initiatives at Launch of 2011 Annual Scientific Meeting and Exposition in New York City

NEW YORK , MAY 21, 2011, 1:00 PM EDT - 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 26 th 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."

During the press briefing, the Society will announce plans to launch a related initiative this summer - the designation of medical practices as ASH Designated Hypertension Centers. The centers must meet rigorous criteria, including Hypertension Specialists as medical directors. The Centers will be important for patients with complex hypertension, who can benefit from physicians who are designated as specialists in clinical hypertension and staff who are familiar with treating hypertension and its co-morbidities.

In addition to previewing important data presentations and key medical debates scheduled for the annual meeting, the Society will also share details about their community outreach program, including annual screening and education programs in New York City and the surrounding area. Other updates will include: the establishment of the ASH Foundation, the ongoing efforts of the ASH Committee on Education, the formal partnership with the American College of Cardiology, and the launch of its new website, www.ash-us.org. The new site will serve as a one-stop resource that offers the most current research and educational information and will provide users with easy-to-understand hypertension information specifically for their needs.

About the American Society of Hypertension

The American Society of Hypertension, Inc. (ASH) is the largest U.S. professional organization of scientific investigators and healthcare professionals committed to eliminating hypertension and its consequences. ASH is dedicated to promoting strategies to prevent hypertension and to improving the care of patients with hypertension and associated disorders.  The Society serves as a scientific forum that bridges current hypertension research with effective clinical treatment strategies for patients.  For more information, please visit www.ash-us.org.

About Hypertension Specialists

The ASH Specialists Program created the Specialist in Clinical Hypertension designation for the specific purpose of identifying and recognizing physicians with expert skills and knowledge in the management of clinical hypertension and related disorders.  Hypertension Specialists have a proven track record of controlling blood pressure in the general population whom they serve and in patients with "resistant hypertension." The Specialist Program identifies and rigorously tests qualified physicians on the current body of knowledge required for a physician to be designated as a Specialist in Clinical Hypertension. To take the examination, physicians must be board certified in a parent specialty, such as internal medicine, family practice, cardiology, nephrology, and endocrinology.

The role of the hypertension specialist is recognized in national and international guidelines developed for the care of hypertensive patients, including JNC-7 and WHO-ISH.  In addition, the AHA Professional Education Committee of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research recommends referral to a hypertension specialist.

Hypertension Specialists manage patients with high blood pressure, including complex hypertension, serve as local and regional consultants for other physicians treating difficult cases, and assist in advice regarding guidelines and process improvement.