Almost half of America’s adult population is hypertensive. Many of these hypertensive adults are unaware that their blood pressure is elevated. One of the best ways to effectively manage blood pressure is to check it regularly.
The American Heart Association (the Association) partnered with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University (MCG at AU) to address hypertension by implementing a Self-Monitoring Blood Pressure (SMBP) initiative. Research shows that SMBP, coupled with clinical support, can improve blood pressure control.
Janis Coffin, DO, a family medicine physician at MCG and Augusta University Health and one of the project’s leaders hopes “that this work will increase to awareness of high blood pressure, empower patients to manage their blood pressure, and ultimately reduce their risks of stroke and cardiovascular disease.”
The Family and Community Medicine Center at MCG and AU Health is in the heart of Augusta. It is the area’s only National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) recognized Level 3 Patient Centered Medical Home. The staff team have a patient and family-centered care concept in delivering comprehensive primary care services. Among the services offered are chronic disease evaluation and management. The clinic currently has about 1,600 patients in their chronic care management program, many managing hypertension.
In April of 2023, the Family and Community Medicine Center began connecting their hypertensive patients who were Medicare beneficiaries to educational materials and validated blood pressure cuffs. These patients are actively working through chronic care management plans. Patients are receiving the tools needed to check their blood pressure and resources to learn how to properly check and evaluate their readings. They are working closely with clinical staff and trained residents to report their readings along with other relevant data (compliance with medication(s), etc.). This data, along with the patient’s feedback, allows providers to supply proper care to control their blood pressure.
Coffin has played a critical role, working closely with the Association and clinical staff to implement this SMBP initiative. The Association provided the framework for the project, the validated blood pressure cuffs, and the educational materials. The first 300 blood pressure devices are going out to patients to keep. To sustain the project, devices have been secured to transition to a loaner SMBP initiative and will be maintained by the Family and Community Medicine Center.
Coffin “truly believes that this work will make an impact on patients controlling their blood pressure and compliance with medications.