Physicians receive lots of information about patients in a short amount of time, and sometimes that information is scattered, disorganized or difficult to comprehend. Now, a researcher at the University of Missouri School of Medicine has received funding to develop a simpler and clearer system to display blood pressure information.
Richelle Koopman, MD, associate professor of family and community medicine at the MU School of Medicine, has received a five-year, $2.2 million grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to develop an easy-to-read graph of a patient’s blood pressure numbers. This display will include numbers from the doctor’s office and home blood pressure data, goals for the patient’s blood pressure and text summarizations of the data.
“A clear display will help patients better understand a pattern of their blood pressure so they can work with the doctor to make good decisions,” Koopman said. “It is important to have the display at the point of care in the exam room during the crucial few moments of the appointment, when the doctor and patient can freely discuss the problem and interact. Those minutes in the exam room are precious, and we can summarize the data in a very effective way that both the patient and physician can understand and talk about.”
By clearly understanding the blood pressure trends and getting better treatment, patients can avoid or prevent complications of high blood pressure including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and some types of dementia.
Koopman will lead a multi-year study to develop the display. The first three years of the study will revolve around designing the process and graphs for the electronic health records system. This tool will be developed to also help patients who struggle with low health literacy by helping them better understand and become more involved in their own care.
“It just makes sense to bring the patient into the experience and have them see and understand their own data,” Koopman said. “From our previous work, we know patients were excited about seeing their own data and sharing in the decision-making process. That is just the right way to do health care.”
The last two years of the grant-funded research will be evaluating how it is working — watching how physicians and patients work together to use the new data to make health care decisions.
“I am hoping the display of blood pressure numbers in the electronic health records will help in shared decision-making and this can become a model for tracking and better treatments of other chronic conditions,” Koopman said.
Koopman is working in collaboration with other researchers from the University of Missouri including Michael LeFevre, MD, vice chair of the MU School of Medicine’s Department of Family and Community Medicine; Jeffrey Belden, MD, professor of family and community medicine; Victoria Shaffer, PhD, assistant professor in the MU School of Health Professions Health Sciences Department; and Mihail Popescu, PhD, associate professor in the MU School of Medicine’s Department of Health Management and Informatics. This group also is collaborating with specialists from the University of Wisconsin and Oregon Health Science University. This collaboration will enable experts from diverse areas – family medicine practice, health information technology, health psychology, program usability, communication and engineering – to share their knowledge and experience in their areas of expertise.