May 9, 2017
Doctors' waiting rooms to introduce self-service blood pressure monitors … to pass time
HAVING self-service blood pressure monitors in GP waiting rooms could see patients use the devices to pass the time before their appointment, a small study has found.
Even those with no history of high blood pressure use the devices simply because they are available, researchers said.
Some blood pressure monitors do not require fitting by a health worker and can be used by the public without training or supervision.
It has been suggested the presence of self-screening stations can reduce undiagnosed high blood pressure.
The small study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, saw experts interview 30 people from Oxfordshire who had a blood pressure monitoring system in their GP practice waiting room.
Half had used such devices.
Patients who had no history of high blood pressure self-screened to fill the time waiting for their appointment, or to help a doctor, the authors found.
"For those with no history of hypertension, the decision to check their BP (blood pressure) was made lightly with little consideration of their susceptibility or any potential consequences," the authors wrote.
"They self-screened to fill the time waiting for their appointment and to confirm their normotensive status."
They also found that several patients with high blood pressure preferred monitoring their blood pressure in the waiting room to doing it at home.
But the study found that patients often do not know about the availability of self-measurement.
The authors added: "The process of self-screening in the waiting room was generally well liked by service users. It is not currently accessed by all eligible patients, however, because of a lack of awareness about its existence or the perceived stigma of being seen (attempting) to measure BP.
"The present results suggest that general practices with BP monitors located in the waiting room may wish to consider the methods by which they promote their presence to patient groups who rarely attend primary care and/or infrequently have their BP measured."
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, the chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: "We always encourage patients to take a keen interest in their own health, particularly in advance of a consultation with their GP where additional information can be considered, and this study builds on previous research suggesting that self-screening tests to monitor blood pressure in GP waiting rooms can have a number of benefits.
"This is certainly an idea worth exploring, particularly at a time when general practice is under intense resource and workforce pressures but ultimately it needs to be the decision of the individual patient and their GP as to whether they want to take their own blood pressure ahead of a consultation, or not."