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Improving Hypertension Control and Patient Engagement Using Digital Tools

  • Richard V. Milani
    Correspondence
    Requests for reprints should be addressed to Richard V. Milani, MD, Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, Ochsner Health System, 1514 Jefferson Highway, New Orleans, LA 70121.
    Affiliations
    Department of Cardiovascular Diseases, John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, Ochsner Clinical School – University of Queensland School of Medicine, New Orleans, La
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  • Carl J. Lavie
    Affiliations
    Department of Cardiovascular Diseases, John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, Ochsner Clinical School – University of Queensland School of Medicine, New Orleans, La
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  • Robert M. Bober
    Affiliations
    Department of Cardiovascular Diseases, John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, Ochsner Clinical School – University of Queensland School of Medicine, New Orleans, La
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  • Alexander R. Milani
    Affiliations
    Department of Cardiovascular Diseases, John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, Ochsner Clinical School – University of Queensland School of Medicine, New Orleans, La
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  • Hector O. Ventura
    Affiliations
    Department of Cardiovascular Diseases, John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, Ochsner Clinical School – University of Queensland School of Medicine, New Orleans, La
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      Abstract

      Hypertension is present in 30% of the adult US population and is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease. The established office-based approach yields only 50% blood pressure control rates and low levels of patient engagement. Available home technology now provides accurate, reliable data that can be transmitted directly to the electronic medical record. We evaluated blood pressure control in 156 patients with uncontrolled hypertension enrolled into a home-based digital-medicine blood pressure program and compared them with 400 patients (matched to age, sex, body mass index, and blood pressure) in a usual-care group after 90 days. Digital-medicine patients completed questionnaires online, were asked to submit at least one blood pressure reading/week, and received medication management and lifestyle recommendations via a clinical pharmacist and a health coach. Blood pressure units were commercially available that transmitted data directly to the electronic medical record. Digital-medicine patients averaged 4.2 blood pressure readings per week. At 90 days, 71% of digital-medicine vs 31% of usual-care patients had achieved target blood pressure control. Mean decrease in systolic/diastolic blood pressure was 14/5 mm Hg in digital medicine, vs 4/2 mm Hg in usual care (P < .001). Excess sodium consumption decreased from 32% to 8% in the digital-medicine group (P = .004). Mean patient activation increased from 41.9 to 44.1 (P = .008), and the percentage of patients with low patient activation decreased from 15% to 6% (P = .03) in the digital-medicine group. A digital hypertension program is feasible and associated with significant improvement in blood pressure control rates and lifestyle change. Utilization of a virtual health intervention using connected devices improves patient activation and is well accepted by patients.

      Keywords

      See related Editorial, p. 1
      Clinical Significance
      • Hypertension can be safely and effectively managed using a digital health platform, achieving better blood pressure control than traditional office-based care.
      • A digital platform for managing chronic disease is well accepted by patients and enhances patient engagement.
      • Factors in the patient domain including health literacy, patient activation, social isolation, and medication affordability play a significant role in chronic disease control and should be considered in population health management strategies.
      Hypertension is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease and is the leading risk factor contributing to the global disease burden, representing approximately 10% of all global health care spending.
      • Lim S.S.
      • Vos T.
      • Flaxman A.D.
      • et al.
      A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010.
      • Gaziano T.A.
      • Bitton A.
      • Anand S.
      • Weinstein M.C.
      International Society of Hypertension
      The global cost of nonoptimal blood pressure.
      Despite effective pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic therapies, the current office-based approach produces suboptimal results in which approximately half of the 80 million US adults with hypertension remain uncontrolled.
      • Magid D.J.
      • Green B.B.
      Home blood pressure monitoring: take it to the bank.
      • Mozaffarian D.
      • Benjamin E.J.
      • Go A.S.
      • et al.
      Heart disease and stroke statistics-2016 update: A report from the American Heart Association.
      Several factors account for these poor outcomes, including the use of suboptimal doses of medications, lack of patient engagement, and limited resources and time to educate and provide lifestyle recommendations.
      • Milani R.V.
      • Lavie C.J.
      Healthcare 2020: reengineering healthcare delivery to combat chronic disease.
      Although many types of interventions have been tested, recent systematic reviews conclude that what is needed is a reorganization of clinical practice and empowerment of nonphysician practitioners to adjust antihypertensive therapy.
      • Glynn L.G.
      • Murphy A.W.
      • Smith S.M.
      • Schroeder K.
      • Fahey T.
      Interventions used to improve control of blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
      Home blood pressure monitoring addresses several limitations of traditional office-based care, including a larger sample of biologic data, reducing misclassification due to white-coat or masked hypertension, and an ability to take more timely action and course-correct therapy.
      • Magid D.J.
      • Green B.B.
      Home blood pressure monitoring: take it to the bank.
      Current technology is accurate and easy to use, and home-based blood pressure measurements better predict cardiovascular risk than office measurements.
      • Pickering T.G.
      • Miller N.H.
      • Ogedegbe G.
      • et al.
      Call to action on use and reimbursement for home blood pressure monitoring: executive summary: a joint scientific statement from the American Heart Association, American Society Of Hypertension, and Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association.
      Moreover, home blood pressure monitoring avoids the inconvenience of an office-based encounter and in and of itself, enhances patient engagement, which independently plays an important role in medication and lifestyle adherence.
      • Pickering T.G.
      • Miller N.H.
      • Ogedegbe G.
      • et al.
      Call to action on use and reimbursement for home blood pressure monitoring: executive summary: a joint scientific statement from the American Heart Association, American Society Of Hypertension, and Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association.
      • Hibbard J.H.
      • Greene J.
      What the evidence shows about patient activation: better health outcomes and care experiences; fewer data on costs.
      • McNamara K.P.
      • Versace V.L.
      • Marriott J.L.
      • Dunbar J.A.
      Patient engagement strategies used for hypertension and their influence on self-management attributes.
      • Margolis K.L.
      • Asche S.E.
      • Bergdall A.R.
      • et al.
      Effect of home blood pressure telemonitoring and pharmacist management on blood pressure control: a cluster randomized clinical trial.
      We sought to evaluate the effectiveness of a remote, home-based telemonitoring program in a clinical setting using commercially available technologies, on blood pressure control and patient engagement in patients with uncontrolled hypertension.

      Methods

      We identified adult patients with the diagnosis of hypertension at the Ochsner Health System who had elevated blood pressure (systolic pressure > 140 mm Hg or diastolic pressure > 90 mm Hg) at each of the 3 most recent physician visits within the previous 18 months. Patients meeting these requirements were enrolled by their physician during an office encounter or through an offer letter by their physician. Patients were required to possess a smartphone as well as purchase a wireless blood pressure unit from a list of preselected vendors based on the smartphone's operating system. For Android phones the vendor option was Withings (Withings, Inc, Cambridge, Mass); for Apple iPhones the options included Withings and iHealth (Mountain View, Calif). The electronic medical record (Epic Systems Corporation, Verona, Wis) provided a direct interface to Withings regardless of operating system, as well as a secure interface to Apple HealthKit (Apple Inc, Cupertino, Calif), thus providing an array of device options for units that interfaced with HealthKit. Patients also were required to have an active account in the patient portal (Epic MyChart, Epic Systems Corporation), which was free; if patients did not have an active account, they were given the opportunity to sign up for one.
      Program details, questionnaires, and electronic consent to participate took place online through MyChart. Questionnaires assessed factors related to hypertension and chronic disease management, including dietary sodium and alcohol consumption, depression, medication adherence, patient activation, physical activity, health literacy, social circumstances (eg, medication affordability, number living in home), and screening for obstructive sleep apnea.
      • Milani R.V.
      • Lavie C.J.
      Healthcare 2020: reengineering healthcare delivery to combat chronic disease.
      Additional clinical data were obtained from the electronic medical record, including serum sodium, potassium, creatinine, estimated glomerular filtration rate, thyroid function tests, and body mass index (BMI). These data were used to create a patient phenotype that assisted in the design of the intervention process.
      Patients were asked to take no less than one blood pressure reading per week, but were encouraged to take 3-4 per week. If the care team had not received a blood pressure reading for 8 days, patients would receive an automated text alerting them that a blood pressure measurement was needed. Blood pressure units were purchased and initial training and setup was provided at the Ochsner O Bar, a patient-facing service that provides information, training, and tech support for patients interested in apps, wearables, and connected home devices.
      • Milani R.V.
      • Bober R.M.
      • Lavie C.J.
      The role of technology in chronic disease care.
      A second group of patients who met eligibility criteria but whose physician was not participating in the program were followed. Of these, 400 patients were matched to the digital-medicine group according to age, sex, BMI, and initial blood pressure, and were followed as a usual-care group over time. Usual-care patients received routine care through their primary care physician and averaged 0.8 visits over 90 days.
      Doctoral pharmacists and health coaches participated in the intervention that included education, drug management, and lifestyle recommendations as per hypertension guidelines.
      • Chobanian A.V.
      • Bakris G.L.
      • Black H.R.
      • et al.
      The seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure: the JNC 7 report.
      • James P.A.
      • Oparil S.
      • Carter B.L.
      • et al.
      2014 evidence-based guideline for the management of high blood pressure in adults: report from the panel members appointed to the Eighth Joint National Committee (JNC 8).
      Each pharmacist received training in hypertension management as well as use of the custom tools within the electronic medical record created to facilitate optimal management. Pharmacists and health coaches were also educated about the importance of patient engagement and methods used to enhance engagement and lifestyle change.
      We developed a health capability score composed of 4 patient domain factors impacting chronic disease outcomes: social isolation, capabilities to process and understand health information (health literacy), engagement in their disease process (patient activation), and economic barriers impacting treatment plans (medication affordability). One point was assigned to any deficiency in each component, with a higher score indicating decreasing health capability.

      Interventions

      Pharmacists contacted patients by phone and discussed the screening results as well as treatment options for improving blood pressure control. Patients were encouraged to be an active participant in their hypertension management and worked with the pharmacist to co-create the treatment plan by choosing among various lifestyle and medication options. Patients were also directed to a dedicated hypertension Web site that offered further educational and lifestyle materials including custom videos and downloadable handouts.
      Those who screened positive for depression or obstructive sleep apnea were referred to their physician or to the appropriate specialist based on physician preference. Patients who screened positive for excess dietary sodium received focused education on the importance of reducing dietary sodium and were additionally asked if other individuals were involved in the purchase or preparation of their meals. If affirmative, and following patient consent, these individuals were contacted by automated e-mail at the behest of the patient, and provided video education and other educational resources on the importance of choosing low-sodium foods when purchasing or preparing meals.
      Patients with medication affordability issues were, as much as possible, switched to generics or less expensive combination agents, and when appropriate and feasible, enrolled in medication assistance programs. Those with medication adherence issues were provided educational materials, pill reminder apps and resources, as well as a simplified medication regimen when possible.
      Patients received monthly reports (Figure) detailing their progress, along with lifestyle tips based on their screening phenotype. Physicians also received monthly reports on their patients' progress. Incoming blood pressure data were analyzed via internally developed algorithms as to their validity and directional change, and alerts were established to highlight which patients needed what intervention and when.
      Figure
      FigureMonthly patient report in the digital-medicine program.

      Outcomes

      The primary outcome was the proportion of patients with controlled blood pressure, defined as a blood pressure < 140/90 mm Hg or < 130/80 if diabetes or chronic kidney disease was present, at 90 days. Other outcomes included change in systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure at 90 days, and improvement in patient engagement using patient activation measure.
      • Hibbard J.H.
      • Greene J.
      What the evidence shows about patient activation: better health outcomes and care experiences; fewer data on costs.

      Statistical Analysis

      Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS version 16.0 (SPSS Inc, Chicago, Ill.). Results are expressed as mean ± standard deviation, or as n (%) where appropriate. Analysis of differences between groups was performed using Student's t test for continuous variables, chi-squared test for categorical variables, and analysis of variance for differences among frequencies for several groups. Logistic regression was used in the health capability analysis in which the response variable was blood pressure control at 90 days. In all analysis, 2-sided P < .05 was considered significant.

      Results

      Of the initial 195 patients who were offered the digital-medicine program, 156 accepted enrollment and 39 declined participation. The baseline characteristics of the digital-medicine (n = 156) and usual-care groups (n = 400) are outlined in Table 1. There were no significant differences in age, sex, BMI, baseline blood pressure measures, and other characteristics.
      Table 1Baseline Characteristics in the Usual-Care and Digital-Medicine Groups
      Usual Care 2(n = 400)Digital Medicine (n = 156)P-Value
      Age (y)68 ± 1068 ± 10NS
      Sex (% female)54%54%NS
      Body mass index (kg/m2)31.7 ± 7.430.8 ± 6.3NS
      % Black23%22%NS
      % Diabetic36%29%NS
      Baseline systolic pressure (mm Hg)147 ± 5147 ± 14NS
      Baseline diastolic pressure (mm Hg)81 ± 881 ± 12NS
      Mean arterial pressure (mm Hg)103 ± 6103 ± 12NS
      Pulse pressure (mm Hg)65 ± 966 ± 16NS
      Creatinine (mg/dL)1.0 ± 0.51.1 ± 0.5NS
      eGFR (mL/min/1.73 m2)55.2 ± 9.956.5 ± 8.9NS
      TSH (ulU/mL)2.0 ± 1.01.9 ± 1.5NS
      % Obese54%52%NS
      eGFR = estimated glomerular filtration rate; TSH = thyroid-stimulating hormone.
      Table 2 highlights additional baseline data in the digital-medicine group. Of note is the high prevalence of lifestyle contributing factors, including physical inactivity and high dietary sodium.
      Table 2Additional Baseline Characteristics of the Digital-Medicine Group (n = 156)
      Physically inactive (%)76%
      Lives alone (%)17%
      Depression (%)17%
      Poor health literacy (%)6%
      Medication affordability issue (%)12%
      Obstructive sleep apnea screen + (%)22%
      High dietary sodium intake (%)32%
      Low medication adherence (%)17%
      Low patient activation (%)15%
      Number of antihypertensive meds3.7 ± 1.5
      Poor technology skills (%)23%
      Table 3 describes the changes in blood pressure metrics and other health metrics at 90 days in the digital-medicine and usual-care groups. Blood pressure, including systolic, diastolic, mean arterial pressure, and pulse pressure improved significantly in both groups (P < .001). At 90 days, 71% of patients in the digital-medicine group achieved blood pressure control, compared with 31% of the usual-care group (P < .001). Over the 90-day period, the usual-care group had an average of 0.8 ± 0.4 blood pressure recordings noted in the electronic medical record, compared with 55 ± 16 recordings (averaging 4.2/week) in the digital-medicine group (P < .0001).
      Table 3Changes in Blood Pressure and Health Metrics at 90 Days
      Baseline90 DaysP-Value
      Changes in the digital-medicine group (n = 156)
       Systolic blood pressure (mm Hg)147 ± 19133 ± 12<.001
       Diastolic blood pressure (mm Hg)81 ± 1276 ± 9<.001
       Mean arterial pressure (mm Hg)103 ± 1295 ± 9<.001
       Pulse pressure (mm Hg)66 ± 1657 ± 11<.001
       High dietary sodium intake (%)32%8%.004
       Patient activation score41.9 ± 6.644.1 ± 6.7.008
       Low patient activation (%)15%6%.03
      Changes in the usual-care group (n = 400)
       Systolic blood pressure (mm Hg)147 ± 5143 ± 14<.001
       Diastolic blood pressure (mm Hg)81 ± 879 ± 9<.001
       Mean arterial pressure (mm Hg)103 ± 6100 ± 7<.001
       Pulse pressure (mm Hg)65 ± 963 ± 9<.001
      Table 4 describes the patient characteristics of digital-medicine patients who achieved 90-day blood pressure control (n = 111; 71%), compared with those who had not achieved blood pressure control (n = 45; 29%). Those patients who had not achieved 90-day blood pressure control had higher entry systolic and diastolic blood pressures, were more likely to suffer depression, have diabetes, be unable to afford their medication, and take more antihypertensive medications.
      Table 4Differences in Characteristics Between Digital-Medicine Patients Who at 90 Days Achieved Blood Pressure Control (n = 111) and Did Not Achieve Blood Pressure Control (n = 45)
      Blood Pressure Controlled at 90 Days (n = 111)Blood Pressure Uncontrolled at 90 Days (n = 45)P-Value
      Age (y)67 ± 1070 ± 10NS
      Sex (% female)51%57%NS
      Body mass index (kg/m2)30.2 ± 6.131.9 ± 6.8NS
      % Black17%30%.09
      % Diabetic21%46%.002
      Baseline systolic pressure (mm Hg)143 ± 19154 ± 13.001
      Baseline diastolic pressure (mm Hg)81 ± 1282 ± 10NS
      90-day systolic pressure (mm Hg)127 ± 8148 ± 7<.001
      90-day diastolic pressure (mm Hg)74 ± 881 ± 10<.001
      Creatinine (mg/dL)1.0 ± 0.41.2 ± 0.7NS
      eGFR (mL/min/1.73 m2)57.5 ± 7.954.2 ± 11.0NS
      % Obese48%59%NS
      Physically inactive (%)75%77%NS
      Lives alone (%)15%25%.12
      Depression (%)11%32%.002
      Poor health literacy (%)5%11%.12
      Medication affordability issue (%)6%27%<.001
      Obstructive sleep apnea screen + (%)26%39%.11
      High dietary sodium intake (%)34%27%NS
      Low medication adherence (%)15%18%NS
      Low patient activation (%)14%16%NS
      Poor technology skills (%)15%34%.07
      Number of entry antihypertensive meds3.2 ± 1.54.4 ± 1.5<.001
      Blood pressure submissions/week4.3 ± 3.84.3 ± 3.2NS
      Low health capability (%)32%55%<.01
      Health capability score0.39 ± 0.640.80 ± 0.82.002
      eGFR = estimated glomerular filtration rate.
      Other characteristics of interest in the poorly controlled group, but of borderline statistical significance, were trends toward a higher prevalence of social isolation, and poor health literacy. The mean health capability score was twofold higher in the poorly controlled group than in those patients achieving blood pressure control (0.80 ± 0.82 vs 0.39 ± 0.64; P = .002), and more than half of the poorly controlled group exhibited some impairment in health capability.
      Table 5 describes the likelihood of achieving blood pressure control based on the health capability score. Relative to a health capability score of zero, the odds ratio of achieving blood pressure control with a health capability score of 1 was 0.58 (confidence interval, 0.26-1.3; P = .20), and 0.17 (confidence interval, 0.06-0.50; P = .001) when the health capability score was ≥2.
      Table 5Health Capability Score and 90-Day Blood Pressure Control in Digital-Medicine Patients
      Health Capability Score012+
      Blood pressure controlled79% (76)67% (28)
      OR = 0.58 (CI, 0.26-1.3; P = .20).
      39% (7)
      OR = 0.17 (CI, 0.06-0.50; P = .001).
      Blood pressure uncontrolled21% (20)33% (14)61% (11)
      CI = confidence interval; OR = odds ratio.
      OR = 0.58 (CI, 0.26-1.3; P = .20).
      OR = 0.17 (CI, 0.06-0.50; P = .001).

      Discussion

      There are 2 important findings from this investigation. First, it is feasible to significantly improve hypertension control as well as enhance patient activation using a digital health monitoring and intervention program. Second, patient-oriented factors comprising an individual's health capability have a significant clinical impact on achieving blood pressure control.
      Management of chronic disease is a multidimensional process that is influenced by the 3 parties governing care: the clinician, the patient, and the health delivery system.
      • Milani R.V.
      • Lavie C.J.
      Healthcare 2020: reengineering healthcare delivery to combat chronic disease.
      The most common chronic disease is hypertension, with a prevalence of 30% of the adult US population, yet only 50% of hypertension patients achieve blood pressure control.
      • Mozaffarian D.
      • Benjamin E.J.
      • Go A.S.
      • et al.
      Heart disease and stroke statistics-2016 update: A report from the American Heart Association.
      • Egan B.M.
      • Zhao Y.
      • Axon R.N.
      US trends in prevalence, awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension, 1988-2008.
      Poor blood pressure control increases morbidity and mortality, and due to only modest national control rates, hypertension-related deaths have increased 23% in the last decade, compared with a 21% reduction in all other causes of death combined.
      • Kung H.C.
      • Xu J.
      Hypertension-related mortality in the United States, 2000-2013.
      Failure in controlling blood pressure has been linked to therapeutic inertia, present in up to 87% of patients with poorly controlled hypertension.
      • Milani R.V.
      • Lavie C.J.
      Healthcare 2020: reengineering healthcare delivery to combat chronic disease.
      • Okonofua E.C.
      • Simpson K.N.
      • Jesri A.
      • Rehman S.U.
      • Durkalski V.L.
      • Egan B.M.
      Therapeutic inertia is an impediment to achieving the Healthy People 2010 blood pressure control goals.
      We have shown that redesigning care delivery using a digital health program can substantially improve blood pressure control, with 71% of previously uncontrolled hypertension patients achieving blood pressure control within 90 days, compared with only 31% of usual-care patients. These improvements in blood pressure control are also timely, as delays in controlling elevated blood pressure have been demonstrated to impact outcomes; delays of >1.4 months prior to medication intensification and delays greater than 2.7 months prior to blood pressure follow-up after medication intensification are associated with increases in cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality.
      • Xu W.
      • Goldberg S.I.
      • Shubina M.
      • Turchin A.
      Optimal systolic blood pressure target, time to intensification, and time to follow-up in treatment of hypertension: population based retrospective cohort study.
      It is noteworthy that the intervention impacted all 3 domains of care, and included a focused characterization and intervention in the patient domain. We report that patient activation was significantly improved by the intervention, with a reduction of those who were classified as poorly activated by 60% (P = .03). This was likely due to several factors, including self-measurement of blood pressure, co-creation of treatment goals, and regular feedback in the manner of monthly reports, intermittent texts, and phone calls. In patients with chronic disease, increasing patient activation can improve medication adherence, decrease adverse outcomes, and reduce total health care costs.
      • Hibbard J.H.
      • Greene J.
      What the evidence shows about patient activation: better health outcomes and care experiences; fewer data on costs.
      • Hibbard J.H.
      • Greene J.
      • Overton V.
      Patients with lower activation associated with higher costs; delivery systems should know their patients' ‘scores’.
      • Greene J.
      • Hibbard J.H.
      • Sacks R.
      • Overton V.
      • Parrotta C.D.
      When patient activation levels change, health outcomes and costs change, too.
      It is notable that the intervention included education and resources toward lifestyle changes that was delivered not only to the patient, but also to members of the patient's social network who had influence over diet, resulting in a significant reduction in dietary sodium consumption.
      • Christakis N.A.
      • Fowler J.H.
      Social contagion theory: examining dynamic social networks and human behavior.
      Although the digital-medicine program achieved quality improvements over usual care, 29% of patients failed to reach target blood pressure goals by 90 days. These patients had higher entry blood pressure and were more likely diabetic, but also exhibited a threefold-higher prevalence of depressive symptoms. Additionally, they noted a greater difficulty in paying for their medication and trended toward more social isolation and lower health literacy. Taken together, the health capability score provided a measure of the likelihood of achieving blood pressure control as viewed from the patient domain. Compared with patients with a health capability score of 0, those with a score of ≥2 had a likelihood of only 17% of achieving blood pressure control at 90 days (P = .001).

      Limitations

      First, this was a single-center study and patients were not prospectively randomized into intervention (digital-medicine) and usual-care groups. Second, only patients who possessed a smartphone were eligible to enroll, which raises issues about education, socioeconomic, and motivational biases. However, the mean age of our population was 68 years, and on screening, 23% lacked common technology skills, suggesting that our cohort was not biased toward a younger, more tech-savvy population.

      Conclusion

      A digital health program in the clinical care setting can be an effective mechanism of delivering hypertension management, outperforming traditional office-based care. The program was well accepted by patients and has the additional value of improving patient engagement. Factors in the patient domain, such as health literacy, patient activation, social isolation, and medication affordability play a significant role in disease control and should be considered in population health-management strategies.

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      Linked Article

      • How Can We Improve the Management of Patients with Hypertension?
        The American Journal of MedicineVol. 130Issue 1
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          Hypertension continues to be a major health problem in the United States, affecting more than 76 million US citizens. Despite marked improvement in detection and therapy of patients with hypertension over recent decades, substantial morbidity and mortality still occur, especially in the Southeastern United States. Hypertension detection programs are common throughout the country and can even be found these days at shopping malls and churches. The extensive array of effective medications available for the therapy of hypertension has markedly improved the percentage of patients with effective control of elevated blood pressure not only in the United States but throughout the world.
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