HealthMay 15, 2024

Focusing on patient-provider relationships for better heart health

As cases of diabetes and hypertension rise, providers can focus on shared decision-making with patients to improve heart health and outcomes.

Healthcare leaders are constantly looking to target meaningful change and improve outcomes and costs, and can do so by assessing population-wide conditions and empowering clinical staff with tools to support their patients. One area of focus can be the rise in incidences of hypertension related to increased diabetes cases.

The link between diabetes and hypertension

Cases of diabetes in the United States have tripled over the past 30 years and models of rising trends of diabetes among youth predict it could dramatically impact people under 20 by 2060. With the rise in type 2 diabetes comes higher cases of hypertension and cardiovascular disease (CVD) – patients with diabetes are twice as likely to have hypertension.

Hypertension increases the risk for a variety of additional CVDs, including aneurysms, coronary heart disease, arrhythmias, and metabolic syndrome, as well as other damage to other parts of the body.

As heart conditions among patients rise, so does the need for clinical answers. Within the UpToDate® clinical decision support platform, five of the top 30 most viewed topics in 2023 were on heart-related conditions and usage for heart-related content increased 7% from 2022 to 2023. This is indicating clinicians are increasingly looking for heart-related topics to support their patients.

By taking a systemic approach toward addressing hypertension – including involving patients in their journey – health systems and administrators can support better outcomes and reduce long-term costs of care.

Shared decision-making can support patient health journeys

As health systems increasingly focus on patient-centered care, shared decision-making (SDM) between providers and patients is a strategy clinicians can use to engage patients in their health journey. One study outlines the four steps of putting SDM into practice:

  1. Foster a conversation with patients, identifying and defining any problems.
  2. Purposely select and adapt the SDM process by matching preferences, reconciling conflicts, problem-solving, and attaching meaning to the health issue.
  3. Supporting SDM through deploying tools that help patients participate and support the care journey.
  4. Evaluate and learn beyond just the outcomes, and seek joint improvement.

When it comes to heart health, hypertension, and CVD, much of the required progress relies on patients doing their own health work outside the care setting. In addition to monitoring and testing blood sugar and blood pressure, patients can make a number of lifestyle changes, including following a healthy diet, losing a modest amount of weight, staying active daily, managing stress, and even managing anger. Providers need to find productive, concrete ways to stay engaged with patients beyond the clinic to help partner with them in their journey.

What if... an administrator could better support heart health in the clinician and patient care relationship? We've seen that patient education can help patients with elevated risk for hypertension better engage in healthy behaviors, so they are more likely to be able to better control their blood pressure.
Mitch Collier, Technology Product Management Associate Director, Wolters Kluwer

Case study: Engaging patients to reduce hypertension

Providers can improve the care journey with their patients by continuing the health conversation beyond the clinic through engagement solutions. In a recent Scottsdale Institute webinar, Wolters Kluwer expert Mitch Collier demonstrated how patient engagement and education solutions can have a direct impact on extending care team reach and supporting patient health. A health system study utilized UpToDate Engage from UpToDate Patient Engagement solutions to contact and educate patients living with controlled and uncontrolled hypertension.

The UpToDate Educate hypertension program is just under 20 minutes long and provides the patient with:

  • An overview of hypertension in clear, accessible language.
  • Tips on how to control high blood pressure and take medications.
  • Instructions for taking blood pressure at home.
  • Tips on how to set small wellness goals.

The health system sent it out to over 6,500 patients with hypertension through an automated batch process with the goal of improving the percentage of patients with blood pressure status on file. After six months, the percentage of patients who had blood pressure readings on file improved from 58% to 66%, with the greatest increase among those who had engaged with the hypertension program (61%). 

A six-month engagement program helped improve the number of patients with blood pressure status on file

Additionally, the number of patients who moved from uncontrolled blood pressure to controlled blood pressure improved by 15% during the six-month timeframe, with a greater improvement among those who viewed the hypertension program.

An enterprise approach to reducing hypertension and CVD

As health administrators look to support clinicians and patients in their journey toward better heart health, taking an enterprise-level approach to support clinical teams as they partner with patients is essential. When teams are aligned with clinical decision support and patient engagement solutions across health systems, addressing patient challenges at scale across populations becomes more feasible and can make measurable impacts on outcomes.

Download the UpToDate Point of Care Report on cardiovascular health, and learn how engagement solutions from UpToDate can help support your cardiac patients.

Download the report by filling out the form below

Holly Urban professional headshot
Vice President, Business Development-Strategy, Clinical Effectiveness, Wolters Kluwer Health
Holly Urban, MD, MBA has extensive experience in healthcare technology and believes in the power of evidence-based content to transform EHRs beyond transactional systems into tools that allow clinicians to provide improved patient outcomes.
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