Patients who are overweight and have hypertension are more likely to lose 10 pounds in six months if they have secure online access to a dietitian than if they received only information and usual methods of care, a recent study from the Seattle-based Group Health Research Institute revealed.
Group Health Research Institute, the research arm of Group Health Cooperative, a consumer-governed, nonprofit healthcare system, conducted the "e-Care for Heart Wellness study." In it, they looked at 90 people who received follow-up to a dietitian. Forty-four received the dietitian e-care as well as a home blood pressure monitor, a scale, and a pedometer. Forty-six were assigned to the usual education and care tactics. Those who received the e-care had higher rates of patient satisfaction and use secure online messaging more.
The online messaging, done through Group Health's website for patients, reported on a patient's blood pressure, weight, and vegetable and fruit intake and to receive ongoing feedback. Blood pressure and heart risk trended lower in the intervention group, but the differences weren't significant.
"One patient said, 'It's like having a dietitian in your pocket,'" stated Beverly B. Green, M.D., a family doctor at Group Health, an associate investigator at Group Health Research Institute, and an assistant clinical professor in family medicine at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine. "The patients really loved this intervention—and having access to a dietitian to work with them toward a healthier lifestyle."
Dr. Green has previously studied on the effectiveness of an e-BP (Electronic Blood Pressure) and what happens when people checked their blood pressure at home and received Web-based care from pharmacists. She found they were nearly twice as likely to get their blood pressure under control (under 140/90 mm Hg)—and cost-effectively, without office visits. She'd like to combine both studies to tailor e-care for the patients who have hypertension.
The study appeared in a recent issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine.