Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a common health condition that affects nearly 50% of adults in the United States. In most cases, adults with hypertension are suffering from primary or “essential” hypertension. Unfortunately, this means that the cause of their high blood pressure is unknown. Meanwhile, a small subset of adults has secondary hypertension, which means that there is an underlying but possibly correctable cause such as a hormone imbalance or kidney disorder.
As people grow older, the risk of suffering from high blood pressure increases as well. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious health issues such as kidney damage, stroke, heart failure, and heart attack. Hospital readmissions are also more common among older hypertension patients over the age of 65.
In this article, we’ll explore the key role that patient education plays in reducing hospital readmission rates for hypertension patients, and how you can deliver patient education effectively by leveraging telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM) tools.
How Telehealth and RPM Help with Hypertension Treatment
While hypertension treatment may involve a medication regimen, a large part of it comes down to making lifestyle changes that matter. Telehealth and RPM makes it easier for healthcare practitioners to help hypertension patients manage their symptoms, even after the patient leaves the hospital setting.
Briefing on Symptom Management Before Discharge
Before a patient is discharged, healthcare providers have to equip patients and their caregivers with information on symptoms to watch out for in the following days or weeks, and what action to take. With telehealth, healthcare providers can continue monitoring the patient’s condition with daily surveys for symptoms like:
- Severe headache
- Fatigue or confusion
- Blurry vision
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulty
- Blood in urine
- Pounding in chest, neck, or ears
Engaging Patients in Their Care
Patient education is more effective when patients are engaged in managing their recovery. This requires healthcare practitioners to rethink the delivery of patient education from passive to interactive. One of the methods that have been used are “teach-back” quizzes, where healthcare practitioners quiz patients to check their level of understanding about their condition and treatment.
HRS’ telehealth platform offers teach-back quizzes for hypertension and other health conditions. These quizzes can be taken as many times as the patient needs until they fully understand and remember vital information about their health.
Conducting Post-Discharge Follow-Ups Virtually
The first week post-discharge is a crucial time, especially for high-risk patients. Research has shown that scheduling a follow-up appointment during this timeframe is effective in reducing 30-day readmission rates by as much as 2.6%.
However, there could be barriers preventing patients from attending their follow-ups, like transportation, cost, or even forgetting about the appointment. Virtual visits are a way to remove these barriers by making it more convenient for patients to attend their follow-ups. Patients (and their caregivers) will also get notifications before the visit, so there’s a lesser likelihood of them not showing up.
Promoting Patient Self-Care
"You and your doctor are partners,” says the American Heart Association (AHA). As one half of that partnership, patients play an important role in monitoring and managing their symptoms. Besides listening to their physician’s advice, patients should also keep themselves informed and practice lifestyle changes that are beneficial for their condition.
HRS’ comprehensive video library includes the following videos as part of blood pressure patient education:
- Quitting smoking
- Regaining and maintaining a healthy body weight
- Keeping up a regular, safe exercise regime
- Eating a healthy diet
- Keeping an eye on cholesterol and blood sugar
- Managing stress
Keeping Patients on Track
Telehealth and RPM enhances patient care by providing an avenue for continuous connection with healthcare practitioners. All the components of your organization’s telehealth strategy should work together to help your hypertension patients achieve their health goals. Here’s an example of what that looks like within HRS’ platform:
- Dietary changes
Some patients may be recommended to go on the DASH diet to help lower their blood pressure and improve their overall health. We have a video about this in our telehealth video library that teaches patients how to stay on track with their diet. The video includes information on recommended sodium intake, types of food to eat, and recommended servings.
The AHA suggests “at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) per week of moderate-intensity physical activity” to keep a healthy heart. Patients can utilize a wearable (like a FitBit) that’s connected to HRS’ platform via Bluetooth to log their exercise and check on their weekly activity goals.
- Weight loss
Patients with hypertension that are also overweight are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease. A Bluetooth weighing scale can help patients track their weight changes over time, and that data is transmitted automatically to the HRS platform so healthcare providers can observe their patients’ progress.
25% of hospitalizations each year can be attributed to medication non-adherence, according to U.S. Pharmacist. HRS’ medication interface integrates with the EMR so care teams can monitor medication adherence, assign new medication, and set daily reminders. All this can be done directly from the EMR straight to the patient’s remote monitoring technology.
How HRS Can Help You with Hypertension Patient Education
Telehealth and RPM have proven to be effective education delivery systems for patients with hypertension. At HRS, we have the technology and experience to implement remote patient monitoring programs that fit your needs.
As part of our patient education program for hypertension patients, we have an extensive video library that includes how to take blood pressure medication, information about stress and high blood pressure, tips about diets that work well to reduce high blood pressure, steps on how to take your blood pressure at home, and more.
To learn more about our Bluetooth peripherals, patient education videos, and overall hypertension programs, talk to one of our digital health specialists today!