"Partnering with someone really makes a difference," Margolis said.
She said the cost of the program was about $1,200 to $1,300 per person. It's not clear yet whether or not the program will be able to prevent enough cardiovascular events to make it more cost-effective than usual care, but Margolis said that there may be ways to tailor the program to make it less expensive.
Margolis noted that doctors involved in the program did not express any concerns about having pharmacists making changes to the medication. "They feel that these are the moves they would be doing themselves because they're in keeping with the same treatment patterns that doctors use," she said.
Dr. Joyce Samuel, an assistant professor of pediatrics in the division of nephrology and hypertension at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School, said she has some concerns about using such a system on patients who have more complicated medical conditions, but a well set-up system would likely be fine with routine high blood pressure.
"You'd have to decide up front, who is routine and who's not, and you would need to build in safeguards about when to involve a physician in the decision, but given that so many people have high blood pressure, physicians might welcome such a system," said Samuel.
For patients, Samuel said an intervention like this is more convenient and helps provide them a better way of managing their blood pressure.
"When you bring care into the home, it puts more responsibility on the patient. It creates a psychological shift when they're taking charge, and by being accountable to the pharmacist, it may lead to better adherence," Samuel said. "When you feel fine, it's hard to get yourself to take your medications, but home blood pressure monitoring gives them something tangible to look at. They can see that the medication or the lifestyle changes work."
Learn more about high blood pressure from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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