Study finds that automated telephone calls improve blood pressure control.

Researchers at U.S. non-profit health care providers, Kaiser Permanente, have found that patients who got automated telephone calls inviting them to get their blood pressure checked were more likely to control their hypertension.

The study involved 64,773 adult members of Kaiser Permanente Southern California with uncontrolled hypertension. About half received automated phone messages encouraging them to have their blood pressure measured at a Kaiser Permanente clinic, while the other group received no calls. The study, found that four weeks after receiving the telephone messages, 32.5 percent of the patients had controlled hypertension, while 23.7 percent of patients who did not receive a call had controlled hypertension.

Lead study author Teresa Harrison, a research associate at Kaiser’s Department of Research & Evaluation in Pasadena, Calif., said in a press statement that the study provides new information about how a simple outreach program can “improve blood pressure control, especially among patients with multiple chronic conditions.” She attributes the positive results to the fact that “this type of outreach reminds patients that they can take advantage of more convenient care. It also gives clinic staff the opportunity to provide education and refer patients for follow-up care, if needed.”

Among patients with hypertension who received the automated phone calls, those who also had cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and diabetes were up to 8.4 percent more likely to achieve better blood pressure control than those who did not have these conditions. Female patients who were older and had higher incomes were also more likely to achieve blood pressure control at the end of the follow-up period than the rest of the study group. The researchers did not collect data about the factors that caused the blood pressure control that needed improvement.

“We found that outreach for uncontrolled hypertension can be done very quickly and that it is a benefit for both patients and health care systems,” commented Joel Handler, MD, Kaiser Permanente National and Southern California hypertension lead and study co-author. He added that from their perspective, “this type of outreach is a win-win scenario that can provide physicians with terrific hypertension control rates and patients with improved health outcomes.”

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