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GPs in Slough help control patients’ blood pressure through tech

The GP practices use digital technology to identify, diagnose and manage patients with hypertension

Several GP surgeries in Slough have been trialling a combination of technologies to help patients manage their blood pressure.

The “hypertension project”, which was developed by a GP at Bharani Medical Centre in Slough, Barhan Kumar, aims to take a digitally led approach to identifying, diagnosis and managing patients with high blood pressure.

As part of the project, patients are provided with digital blood pressure monitors. They are then sent a text, asking them to take blood pressure readings at home, which are sent directly to the GP who will review them. If the readings normal, the results are simply added to the record and no further action is needed, but should a patient have a higher than normal reading, they will be contacted again via text message to upload more readings and medications are then adjusted if needed.

The project was created in collaboration with Frimley Health and Care Integrated care System, and uses patient lists created by Graphnet’s population health solution, CareCentreic, which uses data to help identify those in most need of support, as well as tracking of the project.

Kumar, who developed the project, said that encouraging people to come into the GP for blood pressure testing, as well as management, “has always been quite challenging”.

“We wanted to develop a simple, more timely, cost-effective, efficient, and sustainable model that would benefit the patients most in need of our help, and the use of data and technology has enabled us to do that,” he said.

“From the outset, patient and staff feedback has been positive, engagement high and hypertension outcomes have improved surprisingly fast. The results have been truly remarkable. We’re now hoping that the model can be adopted and replicated across GP practices and primary care networks to improve hypertension outcomes throughout our entire region and nationwide.”

One GP surgery, Ragstone Road Surgery, has seen a 30% increase in patients aged 79 and under with controlled blood pressure and a 23% improvement in those aged 80 and over.

It has also reduced the administrative burden on staff, as previously 20 hours a month were spent contacting patients for blood pressure reviews. This has now been reduced to four hours per month to contact non-respondents.

In spring 2024, the NHS is rolling out a digital health check in a bid to free up GP appointments.

The check-up is a digital version of the existing NHS Health Check, which is offered as a face-to-face appointment to people between the ages of 40 and 74. Its goal is to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, stroke and some types of dementia.

The digital version of the check-up will let patients do their own check online, using a smartphone, tablet or computer.

The NHS delivers 1.3 million health checks every year, which are thought to prevent more than 400 heart attacks and strokes, as well as identifying 315,000 people living with obesity and 33,000 cases of hypertension.

Read more about the NHS and technology:

  • NHS Lanarkshire has been issued a formal reprimand by the ICO after staff members used WhatsApp to share patients’ personal data with one another.
  • Amid security concerns and AI advances, a majority of the British public still trusts the NHS to store and analyse their health data, but would prefer it remains domiciled in the UK.
  • NHS must address digital skills gap in its workforce, demonstrate the value of the NHS App and address the digital maturity gap in organisations if it wants to succeed, MPs say. 

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