Telemedicine support program helps tame out-of-control blood pressure

Telemedicine helped patients with uncontrolled hypertension improve their blood pressure (BP) readings, according to Italian research reported in BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making.

The patients came from a rural mountain region where cellphone service is often spotty. Those who had reliable cellular service used telemedicine while those with spotty service followed usual care.

Researchers gave patients in the telemedicine group a device to measure their BP and a mobile phone with an app that transmitted the data to their electronic records. A nurse checked that the patients measured their BP as requested and took their medicine, and counseled them on lifestyle changes. The nurse could also recommend changes in treatment.

There was no significant difference in BP values between the groups at the beginning of the 80-day study. However, at the end, only 26 percent of the 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 the usual care group.

The researchers figured the cost of the program at 2.1 euros (about $2.84) per patient per day.

Implementing such a structured support program through telemedicine also produced BP improvements in Temple University research with underserved urban patients and in HealthPartners research that included telemonitoring combined with pharmacist case management.

However, the BP reductions achieved through telemonitoring don't last without continuing support services, according to a study published at the Annals of Internal Medicine, and doctor's aren't reimbursed for that ongoing care.

To learn more:
- read the research (,pdf)