Telehealth may help patients control hypertension, but engagement a barrier

Telehealth is an acceptable tool for controlling and monitoring hypertension, but problems persist when using the technology in these cases, according to a study conducted by researchers in England.

In 2013, a hypertension monitoring initiative was rolled out across the country using a telehealth system meant to help patients monitor and manage high blood pressure.

The program was mobile-based and consisted of text message prompts for patients to send in clinical readings like BP measurements through text; it also would send patients information about how to manage their BP, according to the BMC Family Practice study published at Medscape.

However, while the researchers, from Trentham Mews Medical Centre and the National Health Service, said that simple telehealth solutions may be helpful for patents to monitor hypertension--especially ones that decline ambulatory blood pressure monitoring--use of such tools was disappointing.

"Patient engagement with the service was good in the first month, but rapidly started to reduce over the subsequent two months" of use, the authors wrote.

Previous research on use of HIT to monitor this condition has shown that it often needs to be supplemented with in-person visits. When patients used secure messaging in research conducted by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, few of the messages contained enough information for clinical decision-making. 

Because of this, there is need for these types of programs to optimize patient engagement, they added.

"Empirical work is required to identify barriers to achieving BP control among hypertensive patients using simple telehealth and, consequently, services, support and workforce training should be developed to address these issues," the researchers said. 

Other research has shown that telehealth can greatly help patients control BP, including one study by Italian researchers who found that, after 80 days of examination, only 26 percent of participants in a telemedicine group had out-of-range values on systolic BP and 8 percent for diastolic BP vs. 81 percent out of range on systolic BP and 62 percent on diastolic BP among a usual care group.

To learn more:
- check out the study