UPMC blood pressure remote-monitoring program boosts postpartum checkups by 20%

University of Pittsburgh researchers developed a blood pressure home-monitoring program to more quickly detect hypertension levels of postpartum women.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently increased their recommended frequency for postpartum checkups, beginning with three weeks of birth.

In collaboration with the Magee-Womens Research Institute, the research team conducted a study of 499 patients with preeclampsia, eclampsia or chronic, gestational or postpartum hypertension. The study was performed between February 2018 and January 2019, and each participant was discharged from the postpartum unit with an automatic blood pressure cuff and instructions on how to measure their own readings at home.

During the study, a computerized system integrated with the participants' EHRs prompted them to take their own blood pressure and heart rate readings once a day for five days. Forty-three percent of participants' readings came back normal, and their one-week follow-up appointments were automatically cancelled. Participants with abnormal readings were monitored more frequently and their data automatically notified their healthcare provider. Participants who had dangerously high readings are prompted to go to the emergency room.

Results of the study, which was published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, showed that 88 percent of participants made it back to the clinic for a single-follow up appointment at around six weeks postpartum, up from about 66 percent of postpartum patients diagnosed with a hypertensive disorder who make it back for their follow-up without a remote monitoring program.

"We're meeting women where they are instead of saying they have to come to the hospital for all these blood pressure checks when they have a new baby," said lead study author Alisse Hauspurg, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at University of Pittsburgh, according to the news release.

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