In the United States, high blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major health concern and one of the leading causes of heart attacks, stroke, and heart failure. Hypertension affects 1 in 2 adults in America, accounting for nearly 500,000 annual deaths and costs the healthcare system billions of dollars each year. Despite these figures, the condition is treatable.
According to the American Medical Association, the top five barriers to adequate hypertension management are poor or inconsistent blood pressure measurement techniques, masked hypertension, clinical inertia, lack of use of evidence-based treatment protocols by the care team, and poor patient participation in self-management.¹
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) can help overcome these barriers. RPM encourages patients to actively engage with their health management and develop consistent measurement techniques. In turn, physicians receive up to date information about each patient’s condition, allowing them to better tailor health plans and prevent the worsening of chronic conditions like hypertension.
Digital innovations are leading the way to modern hypertension management
Hypertension is traditionally managed by asking patients to record their blood pressure several times per week using their own cuff or one publicly available at a pharmacy. The patients maintain a log of their blood pressure data and share it with their doctor during visits every three to six months. Only then can doctors review the data for concerning trends in the patient’s blood pressure, at which point medication adjustments may be recommended. Traditional at-home monitoring programs have several limitations, each of which are exacerbated by the lack of transparency between doctors visits.
The traditional process for hypertension management does not facilitate effective communication between patients and doctors. It also leads to reactive medicine, whereby doctors have to assess past data and make recommendations to address condition changes after they’ve already occurred, rather than as trends begin to emerge. Finally, traditional management plans rely completely on patients for adequately measuring, recording, and tracking their blood pressure changes over time.
Remote Patient Monitoring has revolutionized this process.
RPM is a subset of telehealth that uses digital technologies to monitor and capture medical data from patients and electronically transfer this information to healthcare providers for assessment, recommendations, and instructions.
RPM technologies can provide many benefits for patients and doctors. Unlike traditional programs, doctors are able to monitor patient data and communicate with patients on an ongoing day to day basis, regardless of the time between scheduled in-person visits. Doctors also set parameters for reasonable blood pressure measurements and are notified when a measurement shows dangerously high blood pressure, at which point they can directly communicate with patients to advise them and make changes to their care plan. This allows care plans to be managed as patients’ conditions change, preventing them from escalating to a costly and dangerous point. Preliminary studies show encouraging results that RPM has the potential to decrease systolic blood pressure² and heart failure related hospitalizations.³
RPM also benefits the broader American healthcare system by providing scalable cost effective health management. The cost of traditional healthcare continues to soar to astronomical heights. American federal healthcare spending is quickly approaching 20% of GDP⁴, and while 90% of that budget is spent on chronic illnesses and 80% of hospital admissions are due to chronic diseases, it costs 3.5 times more to treat.⁵ RPM is a cost-effective and value-enhancing innovation that has the potential to reduce hospitalizations and costly medication for the 1 in 2 adults suffering from hypertension nationwide, while being covered by Medicare, 21 state Medicaid programs, and an increasing number of private payers.
Patient-centric support is essential to successful monitoring programs
There are a few challenges to adopting RPM. On the one hand, patients may struggle to understand the technology and continue to display issues that appeared with traditional monitoring programs, like forgetting to measure themselves consistently. This can be particularly problematic if their coverage is contingent on a particular cadence of data collection.
On the provider side, there is often reluctance to adopt new technologies and programs due to the upfront time necessary to implement and train for the new tools. However, overcoming this hurdle leads to innumerable rewards for both patients and doctors, each of which contribute more transparent and effective ongoing health management.
Kencor Health understands that transitioning to a new system can be difficult, and that’s why we’ve designed our solution to center patient-physician care while also facilitating higher impact interactions without overburdening physicians. We provide each patient with a kit that includes a wireless transmission enabled weight scale, blood pressure cuff, and pulse oximeter, to ensure patients have all the necessary tools for optimal health monitoring at their disposal.
Our patients also gain access to SAMi, our AI-bot assistant who is always ready to help patients manage their health. SAMi reminds patients to take their vital measurements and medication–even when it varies or changes. SAMi’s Cardiology Dashboard is a fully equipped interface where physicians and patients can communicate and monitor vitals. SAMi also responds to changes in patient blood pressure trends by alerting their physicians based on a customizable risk assessment, making it an invaluable tool for managing hypertension. All Kencor’s systems are HIPAA compliant, so you can be confident that patient data privacy is a top priority. Our overall goal is to facilitate engagement between patients and their providers to reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions, reduce the overall cost of care, and improve patient outcomes.