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Transforming hypertension management using mobile health technology for telemonitoring and self-care support.

Can J Cardiol. 2013 May;29(5):579-85. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2013.02.024. Logan AG. Prosserman Centre for Health Research, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of the Mount Sinai Hospital, Department of Medicine of the Mount Sinai Hospital and the University of Toronto, Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Achieving and sustaining good blood pressure control continues to be a challenge for many reasons including nonadherence with prescribed treatment and lifestyle measures, shortage of primary care physicians especially in less populated areas, and variations in physicians' practice behaviour. Many strategies have been advocated to improve outcomes with the greatest success being achieved using nurse or pharmacist-led interventions in which they were given the authority to prescribe or alter antihypertensive treatment. However, this treatment approach, which historically involved 1-on-1 visits to a doctor's office or pharmacy, proved costly, was not scalable, and did not actively engage patients in treatment decision-making. Several electronic health interventions have been designed to overcome these limitations. Though more patient-centred and often effective, they required wired connections and a personal computer, and logging on for Internet access and navigating computer screens greatly reduced access for many older patients. Furthermore, it is unclear whether the benefits were related to better case management or technological advances. Mobile health (mHealth) technology circumvents the technical challenges of electronic health systems and provides a more flexible platform to enhance patient self-care. mHealth applications are particularly appropriate for interventions that depend on patients' sustained adherence to monitoring schedules and prescribed treatments. Studies from our group in hypertension and other chronic conditions have shown improved health outcomes using mHealth applications that have undergone rigourous usability testing. Nonetheless, the inability of most electronic medical record systems to receive and process information from mobile devices continues to be a major impediment in realizing the full potential of mHealth technology.

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