With more the 53 percent of U.S. adults owning a smartphone and more than 30 percent of smartphone owners reporting use of the mobile device to look for health advice, it is clear that consumers want easily accessible information to better manage their health. In fact, a recent poll shows nearly half of American adults are extremely or very interested in being able to check their own blood pressure on smartphones or tablets.
As consumers seek more opportunities to be involved in, and have some control over, their entire medical picture, new technology needs to make data both available and actionable. The advent of new mobile technology is promising for the healthcare industry – enabling providers to not only send information to patients but also to receive information that leads to better care. The ongoing challenge, however, is identifying the right technology to make sure health information is provided in the right format, at the right time, in the right place and to the right person.
The American Medical Group Foundation’s (AMGF) Measure Up/Pressure Down hypertension campaign is at the forefront of meeting that challenge. The AMGF recently launched a pilot project to encourage the use and adoption of wireless home blood pressure monitors by mid- and large-sized medical groups and health systems. The project supports the campaign’s goal of 80 percent hypertension control rates for patients at more than 140 member organizations by the end of 2015.
Across the nation, 150 patients diagnosed with pre-hypertension or hypertension are using the Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor, the Health Mate mobile application and their smartphones or tablets to measure their blood pressure and automatically send the readings to a data portal accessed by members of their care team. From there, care teams at four medical groups – Billings Clinic, Community Physician Network, Cornerstone Health Care, P.A., and Wilmington Health – regularly review home blood pressure readings and then facilitate appropriate follow-up visits, medication titration and lifestyle changes as needed.
While programs of this type are designed to better engage the patients, each individual medical group has leveraged unique tactics to recruit and onboard those patients in most need of intervention or assistance. Cornerstone Health Care relied on providers to identify patients with high blood pressure and then conducted device trainings in the clinic.
Although hypertension is one of the most important risk factors for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and diabetes complications, it is an ongoing challenge to diagnose and manage because it does not have overt symptoms. For this reason, patients may not adhere to recommended medication or lifestyle regimens. Providers should consider offering mobile health tools that provide patients with immediate feedback to demonstrate how lifestyle changes or adherence to medication therapies improve blood pressure.
Incorporating these tools into a practice helps create a higher level of patient awareness and engagement. The consistent flow of information also enables providers to intervene earlier when issues arise and to support patients’ efforts to manage their health.