New technologies are being developed with the potential to make a range of medical tasks quicker and cheaper, and researchers are paying attention.
They’re getting better at making sure that tech not only collects new data, but puts that data to use to improve care.
Blood pressure monitors you can use at home have been available for years, but in a recent study, researchers used Bluetooth-enabled home monitors to send blood pressure readings from patients with high blood pressure to a person trained to analyze them.
Medical personnel can then adjust blood pressure medications accordingly.
Using this system, researchers said, 81 percent of the patients were able to bring their blood pressure under control in, on average, seven weeks.
It was a small, initial study, but this new setup could be one step toward combating the widespread problem of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
The program builds upon a growing incorporation of at-home technologies in treating certain medical conditions.
And hypertension might be one of the best candidates for this new tech.
“It’s pretty much a symptomless disease, so there’s little incentive” to go to a doctor’s office and get your blood pressure checked, said Dr. Naomi Fisher, director of hypertension services and innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, and the lead author of the new study.
Fisher told Healthline the current methods for treating hypertension are not sustainable and not effective enough.
Those methods involve going to a doctor’s office to get blood pressure measured, and returning for follow-up visits to ensure the medication and other treatments are doing enough to control blood pressure levels.
The new system would eliminate those steps and free up doctors and nurses to spend time with other patients, Fisher said.
She noted that pieces of the system have been used before, but putting them together to create a “closed-loop treatment program” is what’s new.
In such a program, a “patient navigator” reviews the measurements that patients collect twice a day and adjusts medication every two weeks.