By Jerry Penso, MD, MBA, President of American Medical Group Foundation and Chief Medical and Quality Officer of American Medical Group Association
In observation of National High Blood Pressure Education Month (May)
Statistics show that one in three Americans – 68 million adults in this country – have high blood pressure. This number includes an array of individuals, including those receiving home health care. Whether you are a home health practitioner directly providing patient care, or an allied partner with a stake in improving the quality of care that home health patients receive, you can truly play a role in hypertension management and control.
Consider these four ways to focus on hypertension management during National High Blood Pressure Education Month and throughout the year:
- Explore best practices – Many organizations offer tools and resources needed to make a measureable impact on hypertension management. Best practice documents offered by the Home Health Quality Improvement National Campaign (Best Practice Intervention Package) or Measure Up/Pressure Down® (Provider Toolkit) offer evidence-based best practices that can be utilized by your leadership and staff. We encourage you to refresh your knowledge of accurate blood pressure technique (e.g., placing a blood pressure cuff over a sleeve can make a difference in getting an accurate reading) or working with your organization to adopt an appropriate treatment algorithm.
- Develop a plan in conjunction with the patient – Home health patients may be unable to take steps on their own to control high blood pressure. Work with the patient and their family to develop a plan for medication pick-up, grocery shopping, meal preparation, and monitoring of healthy movement that can help reduce risk factors and lower blood pressure.
- Disseminate resources to your home health patients – Nearly half of patients with high blood pressure DO NOT have the condition under control and 20 percent of patients do not even know they have it. Often, other health conditions – such as those requiring home health care – are addressed and treated more urgently than the “silent killer.” In your interactions with home health patients, it’s crucial to treat the disease seriously. After all, uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure. To share your concern with patients, consider distributing materials. Free resources include Circulation Nation: Your Roadmap to Managing High Blood Pressure patient booklet, “Choose Your Path” patient video, or factsheets addressing health disparities (African Americans and High Blood Pressure and Hispanics and High Blood Pressure).
- Work with the entire care team – Research has shown that high blood pressure is most effectively treated when the patient is a part of a larger care team. Who these team members are and the important roles they play in managing a patient’s high blood pressure may come as a surprise. Whether or not you recognize it, you play a crucial role in the disease management – and can make an even bigger impact when working with other care team members. Watch this video for a helpful refresher: