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Automated Calls Help Patients in Underdeveloped Countries Manage Blood Pressure

November 2, 2012
by John DeGaspari
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Low-cost way to provide long-distance check-ups

Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor have found that automated calls from a U.S.-based server to the mobile phones of patients in Mexico and Honduras have helped the patients to better manage their blood pressure. The program was designed to be a low-cost way of providing long-distance check-ups and self-management education.

Patients were provided with home blood-pressure monitors and reported information abo.ut their blood pressure, medication use and symptoms during the weekly automated calls. During the calls, they received tailored health information from the University of Michigan via a cloud-based computing system.

Compared to patients receiving usual care, those who received the weekly 12-minute calls for six weeks were more likely to say they understood how to take care their medication, experienced fewer depressive symptoms, and were more satisfied with care, according to the researchers. Blood pressures decreased significantly, especially among patients with the greatest need for education about their hypertension management.

The results of the research were published in the peer-reviewed journal Telemedicine and e-Health. “Our work shows that mobile technology can be used to help people in poor areas of the world that don’t have the infrastructure for health services,” commented lead author John D. Piette, Ph.D.

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