Hypertension is a major problem in the USA. According to the latest CDC reports (2017), nearly half of adults in the USA have hypertension (HTN). Of those 116 million adults, 92.1 million do not have their blood pressure under control (when defined as greater than 130mmHg/80mmHg). As many of you are aware, HTN can lead to a myriad of diseases and is a risk factor for two of the leading causes of death in the USA, stroke and heart disease.
Certain groups are at higher risk for HTN than others. Men and women are at risk at different stages of their lives. Other determinations include income level, career, race, and home address.
HTN is also costly to the healthcare system. $131 to $198 billion per year are spent on medications, services, and to cover the loss of productivity due to premature death.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is an effective management tool for those living with HTN. With RPM, patients can monitor their blood pressure multiple times per day, and the data is transmitted directly to their health care providers. Think about what a difference it can make in health care when patients are monitored this closely, and seamlessly, without having to wait for the next in-person appointments to track progress. This shifts the model of care from episodic to a holistic, patient-centered, and longitudinal system.
How does RPM work in managing HTN?
Patients signed up for the program will receive a kit containing a Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure cuff and a cellular HBox Pod (and display). Items are fully configured and ready and easy to use. The advanced measuring technique of the equipment makes for accurate and fast readings, with all readings automatically sent to their practitioner. The patient need only remember to take readings at specific intervals throughout the day. The equipment does all of the rest of the work.
By tracking specific data on a patient over a length of time, it is easier to get a picture of the issues at hand. Practitioners will work with the patient to determine what was going on when any high readings were taken. High readings could be due to dehydration, stress, exercise, excess sodium intake, certain medications or more. The practitioner and patient will work together to eliminate the causes of high readings and manage the case through monitoring, lifestyle adjustments and/or medications.
Placing daily attention on HTN creates a proactive model, where the patients tend toward solutions.
Readings need to be taken at rest and with activity. The patient’s baseline will be determined and future readings compared to this baseline. Medications can be prescribed and closely monitored and adjusted, to ensure the patient is responding in the desired way.
Considerations in an RPM Home Management Plan
The most important consideration is the accuracy of the equipment. One way to do this is to compare the results of the doctor’s blood pressure monitor readings with the home kit. It’s important that the patient is wearing the right-sized cuffs, and it’s recommended that they should be fitted for these by an expert.
With time, we are likely to see other home management plans combined with this one. For example, if a patient has HTN as well as obesity, both can be monitored. Where people put their attention is where it tends to go. This means that if the patient is regularly tracking their blood pressure readings, they will tend to be a more proactive player in regards to tending to their own health and well-being.
In conclusion, getting patients on board with an RPM plan could make the difference between controlled Hypertension and progression to heart disease.