Scotland’s health secretary learned how simple it is to monitor her blood pressure without the need for regular visits to the GP at an event which highlighted Edinburgh Napier research.
Shona Robison visited Boroughloch Medical Practice near the Meadows in Edinburgh today to find out more about the innovative Scale-Up Blood Pressure Project.
Boroughloch is one of 25 medical practices across NHS Lothian participating in the project, in which Dr Janet Hanley, Reader in Edinburgh Napier’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Care, has a key role.
A total of 2500 patients are expected to enrol in the programme over the coming months. Each patient will be given a blood pressure machine and be prompted to check their BP regularly.
They will then simply text the results back to their surgery through a system called 'Florence'. Even the oldest mobile phone will work, and patients will be told immediately if their blood pressure is on target or if they should contact their surgery.
Surgery staff will be able to see patterns over time and so will have a much more accurate picture for each patient. Each month staff will get a report of the results which will give a clear indication whether a change in treatment needs to be considered.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “This is a simple, yet effective way for patients to self-manage their condition and avoid repeated trips to their GP. It shows how new technology can transform the way healthcare is delivered within our NHS. In particular, within primary care, new technology has the potential to revolutionise the way the system works - improving the experience for patients and freeing up GP time to concentrate on more urgent and complex cases.”
Edinburgh Napier’s Dr Hanley was chief investigator for the original trial which showed telemonitoring can be an effective method of improving blood pressure management and is part of the team evaluating the impact of the new initiative.
She said: “Our original research showed that telemetry-supported home blood pressure monitoring provided a convenient and trustworthy measure of blood pressure which guided treatment, helping people lower their blood pressure.
“The technology reduces the need for people to go to their surgery for blood pressure checks but, more importantly, better blood pressure control reduces individuals' risk of stroke, chronic kidney disease and other high blood pressure related conditions. The current initiative will allow this technology to be rolled out to thousands of patients.”
Rob McCulloch-Graham, Edinburgh’s new Health and Social Care Chief Officer said: “This is a great way for our patients to monitor their blood pressure from the comfort of their own homes. They can be secure in the knowledge that their GP is getting a regular update on their condition and reassured that they will be able to make any necessary adjustments to treatment.”
If the project is successful, the aim is to roll out the programme across Scotland to all those who need it and are keen to self-manage their blood pressure.