Background and Resources

DC Million Hearts Program: Recipe for Public Health

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Evaluation Background

Public health partnerships are a key strategy for preventing chronic disease. By linking public health, primary care, and community organizations, partnerships can expand the reach and effectiveness of their prevention and health promotion efforts. Partnerships are most successful when they have strong leadership and maintain ongoing communication lines between all partners. Effective partnerships also require a formalized structure and clearly defined roles. Potential partner organizations may include business groups, community-based organizations, academic health centers, faith-based groups, and other community-level entities.1

In the fall of 2014, the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP) sought to identify health departments that demonstrate promise in the management and control of hypertension. DHDSP selected the DC Million Hearts program to participate in an evaluation to understand the components of the program. CDC conducted an evaluation focused on assessing the public and private partnership initiative led by the health department and the initiative’s contributions toward improving outcomes related to heart disease. The results of the evaluation demonstrated that multisector partnerships enable partners to pool resources, talents, and strategies so that each partner has the tools to successfully carry out its program responsibilities. Findings from the evaluation of the DC Million Hearts program can inform how state health departments develop multisector partnerships to increase coordination and collaboration.

The evaluation used a mixed-methods approach with two main focus areas: implementation progress (the extent to which program activities were carried out as planned), and program progress (the extent to which program activities contributed toward meeting the short-term and intermediate outcomes). The qualitative evaluation component incorporated a thorough document review, an observation of the program’s collaborative meetings, and in-depth interviews with key informants. The quantitative methods of the evaluation synthesized data submitted by DC Million Hearts network partners.

Program Background

The DC Million Hearts program is a network made up of multiple public and private organizations, including national and regional organizations, local health care systems, academic organizations, and community organizations and programs. Through collaboration with key partners, population-level monitoring, and support for quality improvement, the DC Million Hearts program aims to reduce morbidity and mortality due to heart disease and diabetes among residents of Washington, DC. The program also works to achieve management of heart disease and diabetes risk factors at the district level.

Through the evaluation, CDC identified key program outcomes that demonstrate the reach of the partnership network. These outcomes may be replicable for other organizations through the development of multisector partnerships.

  • DC Million Hearts began working with six external partner organizations in 2013. Through networking and promotion of the program, the District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) expanded the DC Million Hearts partnership base to 16 organizations by October 2015.
  • In the second year of the program (2014-15), the DC Department of Health and partners increased the number of health care systems represented in the program’s population-level monitoring database from nine to 20. This is an increase from 17% to 40% of all health care systems in DC.

For additional information on the DC Million Hearts Program, please see the program Field Notes [PDF-3.4M].

Additional Resources

The DHDSP website offers a variety of evaluation tools and resources to assist health departments with their evaluation efforts. Below is a selection of relevant tools and resources:

Field Notes

Field Notes are documents that highlight examples of different evaluation approaches at the state, local, and community levels.

Coffee Breaks

Coffee Breaks are 20-minute mini-trainings focused on knowledge translation tools and evaluation basics for chronic disease programs.

Program Spotlights

WISEWOMAN briefs provide guidance and resources for managers of WISEWOMAN programs to improve health outcomes among participants.

Evaluation Basics

Evaluation Basics are evaluation technical assistance tools that clarify approaches to and methods of evaluation, provide examples, and recommend resources for additional reading.


  1. Institute of Medicine. Primary care and public health: exploring integration to improve population health. Washington (DC): National Academies Press; 2012.

Learn more about implementing statewide learning collaboratives from the Maryland Learning Collaborative’s Recipe for Public Health.

Recipes for Public Health: DC Million Hearts Program