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Gold, incentives and meh

BP self-monitoring helps GPs to cut workload and hit pay targets

The British Cardiac Society conference heard research on hypertension and heart failure – by Rob Finch

A novel blood pressure

monitoring scheme could

help to cut GP workload and boost pay, according to new research.

The scheme, in which patients monitored their own blood pressure using equipment available in the practice waiting room, helped GPs meet the targets set in the quality framework.

GPs setting up similar systems in their practices could find their workload is reduced and their relationship with their patients is better, according to results of the randomised controlled trial.

The GP researchers from the University of Birmingham followed up 402 patients from eight practices over one year. Self-monitoring patients only consulted a GP or practice nurse if they failed to achieve individualised blood pressure targets.

Their systolic blood pressure fell by an average of 9mmHg compared with a

reduction of 6.5mmHg in controls under normal GP care.

The results are important in the light of the quality and outcomes framework, which offers a total of 97 points – worth £7,275 to the average three-partner practice – for lowering blood pressure to targets.

Patients who self-monitored blood pressure also attended the practice for hypertension management signif- icantly less than the controls. The research showed the intervention saved nearly one consultation for hypertension per person per year.

Dr Peter Brindle, a GP in Bristol and Wellcome training fellow in health services research at the University of Bristol, said: 'This could make all the difference to patients. It sounds like a good idea because it gives the patient control of their condition and it becomes an active process for them.

'In future this may become the most suitable way to measure blood pressure, as thresholds lower and more and

more people need treatment.'

The researchers found patients monitoring their own blood pressure showed no signs of increased anxiety.

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