BP Patients Do Better with Online Help

Medication, education, plus a dose of lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. That is pretty much the standard treatment for hypertension. But a recent study published in JAMA shows that patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure can do better with blood pressure self-monitoring and regular contact with a healthcare provider through the Internet—and they do it with fewer doctor visits.

Medication, education, plus a dose of lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. That is pretty much the standard treatment for hypertension. But a recent study published in JAMA shows that patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure can do better with blood pressure self-monitoring and regular contact with a healthcare provider through the Internet—and they do it with fewer doctor visits.

That conclusion is the result of a 3-year study that followed the progress of 778 patients with uncontrolled hypertension. The study participants were randomly assigned to three separate groups: one group got standard care, one also got home blood pressure monitors and were trained in sending blood pressure results to doctors via the Internet, and the third got all that plus regular twice-a-month online contact with pharmacists. The pharmacists encouraged this group of patients to take their blood pressure regularly, advised them on lifestyle goals, and adjusted medications—all online.

Almost 60% of the patients in the third group got their blood pressure under control, meaning they had an average reading under 140/90. That’s nearly double the 31% who achieved that goal in the first group, and far better than the 36% in the second group who got to that level. According to study researchers, however, replicating these results on a wider scale is a problem since the current healthcare reimbursement system rarely pays for online consults.