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Telemedicine for Hypertension

By September 28, 2010Commentary

High blood pressure affects as many as 70 million Americans.  Uncontrolled, it can lead to strokes, organ damage and other health problems.  For these patients, blood pressure needs to be constantly and closely monitored for changes which may require either initiation or adjustment of medication or other interventions.  Telemonitoring is an obvious method of trying to ensure not only frequent measurement but rapid communication of results to a provider.  Research published in Telemedicine and e-Health examines the literature on the effects of telemonitoring on health outcomes for hypertensive patients.   (TeleMed. Journal Article)

In general, research has shown that patients who used home-based tracking of blood pressure had better outcomes than those who had office-based monitoring.   Telemonitoring facilitates this home-based, self-management of high blood pressure through a combination of good measuring devices which can automatically transmit results to providers.  In addition, the telemonitoring equipment and service may help with medication management by the patient or providers.  This literature survey examined research results comparing telemonitoring with other methods of managing blood pressure.

Altogether fifteen studies were reviewed, most of which were randomized clinical trials.  The researchers found that almost every study reported better outcomes with telemonitoring than with usual care.  Basic blood pressure control was better in most of the studies.  Medication management and compliance improved.  Patients and providers appeared satisfied with the method.  Few studies looked at cost outcomes, but those that did showed no significant change up or down.  Overall, the research indicates that telemonitoring for hypertension is probably better than usual care and has a number of other benefits, such as greater patient engagement.

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