Singapore

Scheme for monitoring high blood pressure from home a success

A pilot scheme allowing hypertension patients to monitor their condition at home has shown promising results in its first six months.

A group of 120 patients with hypertension - or high blood pressure - were given free Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure monitoring devices that transmitted their weekly readings to a polyclinic care team.

As of last month, 54 patients had completed their first six months of treatment and shown improvement in their mean blood pressure. The rest are still undergoing the treatment.

The scheme has saved them making at least one polyclinic visit a year, with the devices prompting those who miss readings and flagging irregular results to nurses.

Usually, patients take their blood pressure readings at home and write them down to discuss during their next polyclinic visit - which can delay necessary medical attention.

The pilot scheme was set up by the Ministry of Health's Office for Healthcare Transformation (MOHT) and the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics, which released the results yesterday.

The hypertension pilot scheme started at Ang Mo Kio Polyclinic last September.

Of those taking part in the pilot, those with poorly controlled hypertension saw the highest benefit.

"Seeing a doctor two or three times a year is not sufficient - patients who look after themselves need advice and support, and need to be in close contact with the team of doctors and nurses," said MOHT executive director Tan Chorh Chuan.

The pilot is also trialling a bilingual SMS chatbot that sends timely advice to patients on their mobile phones.

Store cashier Catherine Tan, 47, has been monitoring her blood pressure more regularly since taking part in the trial.

"My work has irregular hours, so being able to take my blood pressure readings at home really makes things convenient and saves me a lot of time as I don't have to go to the polyclinic so often," she said.

The pilot scheme is to be extended to more polyclinics within 12 to 18 months, and a similar one will be extended to diabetes patients in six months.

MEDICAL & HEALTH