Keeps the doctor away? Adding pharmacist telemonitoring of a patient's blood pressure to your care regimen really works, according to the results of a recent study.
Telemonitoring may prove to be a useful tool for physicians trying to increase therapy adherence in patients with hypertension.
A study recently presented at an American Heart Association meeting showed that success in lowering blood pressure was more likely to be achieved in patients receiving hypertension-related support from a pharmacist by phone than it was in patients receiving typical interventions.
Patients in the telemonitoring intervention group saw their primary care providers (PCPs) and received additional hypertension management and telemonitoring support from a pharmacist, whereas the patients in the traditional-care group received care only from a PCP.
Researchers found that, of the 450 patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure who participated in the study, blood pressure in 45% in the traditional-care group was reduced to healthy levels after 6 months, compared with nearly 72% in the telemonitoring group.
Intervention patients measured their blood pressure at home and sent readings electronically to a secure Web site. Pharmacists accessed the information and consulted with the intervention patients by phone every 2 to 4 weeks.
Overall, the patients in the telemonitoring intervention group saw greater decreases in blood pressure, received more blood pressure medications after 6 months, and reported greater success at remembering to take their medications consistently than did patients in the traditional-care group.
“These early results suggest that home blood pressure telemonitoring with extra telephone care by a pharmacist was very effective in improving blood pressure control,” says Karen Margolis, MD, MPH, the study’s lead author and director of clinical research at HealthPartners Research Foundation. “If these early results can be sustained over the long run, it might decrease the number of patients who suffer heart attacks, strokes, or other complications of high blood pressure.”
Researchers will continue following participants in the study in hopes of uncovering long-term effects of the intervention efforts. Margolis notes that all of the participants in the study were health-conscious, so different results might be achieved in a less-motivated group.