By Brittanie Vogen OTR/L, MOT, American Heart Association Community Impact Director for the Blue Ridge Virginia area
In the City of Roanoke, nearly 40% of the population report having high blood pressure (BP). Over the past year, Planned Parenthood (PP) South Atlantic has provided reproductive health services, STI testing and treatment, cancer screenings, gender-affirming care, all while expanding to include primary care services. PP serves all community members, regardless of insurance status. In Fall 2022, PP implemented the Target:BP™ Measuring BP Accurately training and skills testing into their annual competencies and staff orientation. Continuing their collaboration, the American Heart Association supported PP South Atlantic in developing a self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) initiative to enhance partnering with patients to achieve hypertension control.
On December 6, 2022, the American Heart Association’s Community Impact Director (CID) and PP Roanoke’s Nurse Practitioner (NP) created a formal SMBP program, effectively establishing a systems change with the first loaning of a BP monitor and cuff to patients. PP Roanoke serves approximately 260 under- and uninsured patients monthly, meaning the SMBP initiative will improve the lives of more than 3,000 individuals yearly. The PP Roanoke currently manages 75-100 patients with hypertension, most of which receive gender-affirming care. However, all patients will now have access to SMBP. PP Roanoke had occasionally provided blood pressure devices to patients in need, but in collaboration with the American Heart Association were able to implement evidence-based practices to ensure a well-rounded program.
Through guidance of the American Heart Association and American Medical Association’s platform Target:BP™, PP Roanoke now has a program that maximizes efficiency, ensures best practice, and expands SMBP resources to more patients. American Heart Association provided 10 validated BP devices to PP Roanoke, helped establish a loaner program, and provided education on utilizing patients’ insurance to access monitors. Take home patient kits were created and included a reusable tote bag, a BP monitor and cuff, and the Checking Your Blood Pressure at Home educational resources which include materials such as Life’s Essential 8™, Target:BP™’s patient resources, recommended lifestyle changes, and a “Welcome Letter” for patients to have contact information and dedicated QR-code to reach the PP online portal as needed.
Upon completion of a 14-day monitoring timeframe, patients follow-up with a dedicated PP team via telehealth and in-person appointments. PP South Atlantic has a rigorous protocol for BP management after the initial SMBP period including monthly checks until desired BP control is obtained. PP Roanoke will continue to monitor and assess the program with any needed adjustments to education, resources, and loaners to best meet the patients’ needs. In 2023, this systems change be expanded to PP’s Charlottesville health center, and we look forward to utilizing PP South Atlantic as a referral site for individuals who will need to establish primary care services and access SMBP through community-based BP screenings.