Hair salons get free kiosks so customers can check blood pressure while they wait.

A strategic partnership between New York Blood Pressure, Inc. (NYBP), Rochester Business Alliance, and the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency have found an innovative way to encourage people to check their blood pressure.

To-date the collaboration has led to the establishment of free, self-service health stations where people can measure blood pressure, pulse rate, weight, body mass index, and can download readings from glucose meters, pedometers and other devices. These units have an interactive touch screen interface along with internet capabilities that allow users to save and view readings on their own PC using a secure personal health record, and transfer individual readings to wellness/disease management databases.

Interest grew and the stations have since been placed in 800 sites across New York, including pharmacies and grocery stores.

The overall aim is to help raise awareness about the risks of hypertension ― essential given that 67 million American adults (31 percent or 1 in every 3) have high blood pressure. According to a recent global study of 154,000 adults, 46.5 percent of those with high blood pressure were not aware they had it and only 32.5 percent who were aware and being treated, were achieving target control. The results applied equally to high, middle, and low-income countries.

Through the NYBP partnership, named the Community High Blood Pressure Collaborative, free blood pressure measuring booths can be placed in any location where people gather and there is enough space. Now, nearly two dozen local hair salons, barbershops, churches and libraries have received a free kiosks.

While many people find time to get a haircut in their busy schedule, they don’t necessarily make time check their blood pressure. If they are having their hair done anyway, or going to a pharmacy or grocery store for that matter, they don’t need to make a special trip.

NYBP specializes in selling and leasing self-service, automated health monitoring stations. According to the company’s vice president, Ellen Miller, they gave away some older models to homes or businesses that otherwise would not be able to afford even a used machine, which costs several thousand dollars.

Now, a pampering visit to a hair salon takes on a whole new meaning.

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