Managing high blood pressure with telehealth care as effective as in-person care and more satisfying, according to study published by the American Heart Association
HealthPartners Institute research published in the journal Hypertension points to potential benefits for managing chronic conditions virtually in a post-COVID world
Bloomington, Minn. – People who received telehealth care for their high blood pressure saw similar improvements in their condition as those who received in-person care. But, those who received the telehealth care rated their experience more favorably, according to a new study published in the journal Hypertension.
The study, which was led by HealthPartners Institute and completed before the COVID-19 pandemic, may have implications for managing modifiable risks associated with other chronic conditions, too.
“When COVID hit in 2020 and telehealth exploded, many people wondered whether it was as effective or how it would impact outcomes. These findings show it’s a safe and effective alternative to in-person care for managing high blood pressure,” said Karen Margolis, MD, senior researcher at HealthPartners Institute and lead author on the study. “The better we understand when telehealth is effective, the better we’ll be able to leverage it for those who want it.”
In telehealth, take heart
The study started in 2017 at 21 HealthPartners clinics in Minnesota and western Wisconsin and involved more than 3,000 patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure.
Twelve clinics provided telehealth care. Patients would routinely monitor their blood pressure at home and have regular phone calls with a Medication Therapy Management pharmacist or nurse. Their virtual care teams would provide recommendations and modify medications as needed.
Nine clinics provided in-person standard of care that included free follow-up blood pressure checks.
For both groups, blood pressure decreased significantly during 12 months of follow-up from 157/92 to 139/82 mmHg in clinic-based care group and 157/91 to 139/81 mmHg in telehealth care patients.
However, telehealth care patients were significantly more likely than clinic-based care patients to rate their care highly, and report that blood pressure care visits were convenient.
“The difference in satisfaction and convenience are important for patient care, and many health systems have goals around these two metrics,” Margolis said. “The data suggest that many people could benefit from telehealth care.”
HealthPartners Institute has been studying telehealth care for blood pressure for the better part of a decade.
In a 2020 study of 450 patients, researchers found that a group of blood pressure patients who had telehealth check-ins with pharmacists had substantially more blood pressure lowering and fewer cardiac events over five years than a group that received clinic-based care.
The estimated costs for these cardiac events were $758,000 for the group of patients that received the telehealth intervention and $1,538,000 for the group of patients that received the standard care.
This translated to a net cost-savings of about $1900 per patient.
“This latest data adds to existing research and makes the case for telehealth care among patients with high blood pressure,” Margolis said. “We’re consistently finding that for those who want it, it’s an effective approach to care and we should consider making it a more widely available option.”
About HealthPartners Institute
HealthPartners Institute is part of HealthPartners, the largest consumer governed nonprofit health care organization in the nation with a mission to improve health and well-being in partnership with our members, patients and the community. HealthPartners Institute supports this mission through research and education—advancing care delivery and public health around the globe. The Institute annually conducts more than 350 research studies and trains 700+ medical residents and fellows and 1,200+ medical and advanced practice students. Its integration with HealthPartners’ hospitals, clinics and health plan strengthens the Institute’s ability to discover and develop evidence-based solutions and translate them into practice. Visit healthpartnersinstitute.org for more information.