At-Home Health Monitors Linked to Spike In ER Visits

Home health caregivers may be able to play an important role in reducing hypertension-related emergency room visits, according to a Canadian study recently published in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

People who use mobile health devices to check their blood pressure at home may be more likely to visit the emergency room unnecessarily, the study reveals—perhaps because they don’t know what their blood pressure numbers mean without seeking a health care worker’s guidance, the study’s researchers speculate.

The study, conducted by Clare Atzema of Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center and her colleagues, suggests home-based monitors that gather data won’t necessarily help consumers manage their health unless there’s also a way for the consumers to understand that data. The consumer, in other words, may require more information as to what that data means and what to do next, according to mHealth Intelligence.

The researchers analyzed emergency room visits for hypertension between 2002 and 2012 in Ontario, Canada, and noted a 64% increase in visits during that period. The researchers also determined that only 8% of those visitors were subsequently admitted to the hospital, and less than 1% died within 90 days of the visit.

Though the study’s findings didn’t directly link home-based monitoring to emergency room visits, the researchers speculated that many of those visitors were taking blood pressure readings at home, seeing high numbers and then heading to the emergency room.

In a different study published in 2015, almost half of the people who went to the emergency with a high blood pressure reading did so after checking their blood pressure at home, The Globe and Mail reported.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson