Text Messaging for the Win on High Blood Pressure

PregnancyThe following is a guest contributed post from Jeremy Pollack, Staff Blogger at CallFire, a cloud-based voice and text platform.

Preeclampsia is a hypertensive disorder that occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy and can be fatal to both the mother and the fetus. Five to eight percent of all pregnancies are affected by preeclampsia, and an estimated 76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths are claimed each year by the disorder.

Preeclampsia is the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths worldwide, and yet we have few options for curing this type of hypertension, short of inducing an early delivery. Unfortunately, hypertension can surface even after delivery, and is often ignored by new mothers unaware of the symptoms, or without resources to monitor this critical period post childbirth.

Text or SMS messaging might be a viable solution to this postpartum hypertension.

Mobile Healthcare Improves Postpartum Hypertension

In a recent study by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found that as many as 70 percent of patients do not attend important follow-up appointments post-pregnancy. During these recommended visits, patients are often tested for high blood pressure.

The study also found that women have high rates of cell phone use and text messaging. The team at Penn set out to determine if a text message-based monitoring system could help monitor women diagnosed with preeclampsia, notify them of advancing symptoms, and intervene before hospital treatment became necessary.

Thirty two patients with preeclampsia were given monitoring devices (wrist bands) before leaving the hospital. Patients received daily reminders to check their blood pressure and send the results to the hospital. If abnormal, they were asked to take additional readings.

84 percent reported a blood pressure reading during the first two days after discharge; 65 percent reported results for up to five of the seven days of the trial.

Because of this text message system, two patients were given an oral medication to lower their blood pressure. None of the women were admitted to the hospital.

Text Messaging for the Win

Moms unable to make it in for postpartum office visits provided valuable information to their physicians in a timely and cost-effective way.

Remote blood pressure monitoring performed with a simple SMS messaging system has been proven effective for helping reduce the likelihood of death by preeclampsia.

However, this study is really just the tip of the iceberg. Mobile health solutions, like this text message blood pressure monitoring system, are at the very cusp of rapidly growing mHealth industry. In addition to monitoring services like the one in the study, mobile healthcare also includes diagnosis services and organizational strengthening for insurance companies, providers, and other players in healthcare. Healthcare organizations as a whole should be looking into the low cost, high value opportunities that mHealth is bringing to the industry.