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Home blood pressure monitoring extended

Local partnership helps provide monitors to patients.

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A program that began during the COVID-19 pandemic to make it easier and more convenient for Tri-County Health Care (TCHC) patients to track their blood pressure and monitor/treat hypertension will be extended.
The program provides at-home blood pressure monitors for patients who are discharged from the hospital and have been newly diagnosed with or dealing with poorly managed congestive heart failure, and for patients (in the clinic setting) when hypertension medication changes are being considered in the clinic.
This program was initially implemented due to limited clinic access related to COVID-19 and patient hesitations to be seen in the clinic at that time. Paying for clinic visits due to job loss and other factors was a concern for patients, and home blood pressure monitoring lessened this issue, according to a Wadena County Public Health news release.
Tri-County Health Care wanted to provide patients with an innovative way to conveniently track their blood pressure and treat/manage hypertension without frequent visits to the clinic. The program has worked well in not only achieving its initial goals, but also in supporting the overall health of patients. They have also found that at-home blood pressure monitoring helps identify “white coat syndrome,” which occurs when a person develops high blood pressure in a healthcare setting. It also gives them the confidence to partner with their healthcare provider in making the choices they need to make to take care of their health needs.
RN Health Coaches have found that patients using the at-home blood pressure monitoring devices are more willing to make lifestyle changes, seek help, and begin taking blood pressure medication.
“Some individuals have been able to prove their blood pressure is at goal or lower at home and are then able to decrease their blood pressure medication dose or discontinue their medication altogether. Checking home blood pressures at different times of the day has also been helpful to identify the best time for a patient to take their medication.” Missy Spandl, RN Health Coach at Tri-County Health Care.
When a patient receives a new blood pressure machine in the clinic, they are sent home with educational handouts on the proper use of the device, ways to obtain an accurate blood pressure reading, and a blood pressure recording card. An RN calls the patient the next business day to ensure they could set up and use the machine. RN health coaches reach out to patients periodically to obtain their blood pressure readings and, if necessary, route them back to their primary care provider for advice and further directions.
The blood pressure machines were funded, in part, by a grant from Wadena County Public Health. The Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) grant is a state-based program that works at the local level to reduce the leading causes of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease.
“We are proud to partner with Tri-County Health Care to help support a highly effective program that is having significant and positive health impacts on local residents with hypertension,” Carrie Schreiner, Wadena County Public Health SHIP Coordinator.
From August 2021 to March 2022, 48 self-monitoring blood pressure machines have been distributed locally. There have also been 39 educational materials provided during that time period.
Schreiner said that Wadena County Public Health SHIP will continue to meet with Tri-County Health Care quarterly to monitor successes or challenges faced with the self- monitoring blood pressure machines, and provide guidance or assistance along the way if necessary.
“Tri-County Health Care and the patients we serve have been greatly impacted by the funds received from the SHIP grant. This opportunity has allowed us to meet the needs of our community and their health-related concerns regardless of their financial status,” Jessica Hamman, RN Health Coach Tri-County Health Care.

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