At-Home Monitoring Program for Women Receives Federal ‘Hypertension Innovator’ Award

By: Amy Charley

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Office on Women’s Health has recognized UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Magee-Womens Research Institute with the HHS Hypertension Innovator award for its at-home blood pressure monitoring program, which rapidly detects concerning trends in postpartum women before their situation becomes critical.

America has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, with the majority of deaths occurring postpartum. Since cardiovascular disease is the primary cause, researchers at UPMC Magee and Pitt created a remote hypertension monitoring program in 2018 that quickly addresses and consistently monitors key contributors to maternal morbidity and mortality during the postpartum period.

Hyagriv Simhan, M.D.

“It’s an honor for our work to be recognized by HHS,” explained  Hyagriv Simhan, M.D., executive vice chair of obstetrics at UPMC Magee. “Our innovative program does more than just take blood pressure readings remotely. It links moms to ongoing preventive care with the goal of minimizing the harm of hypertension across the course of their lives. While helping to improve health for all women postpartum, programs like this also help narrow health disparities.”

The hospital has enrolled over 3,000 women with preeclampsia, eclampsia or chronic, gestational or postpartum hypertension.  Each was equipped with an automatic blood pressure cuff and instructions on how to take their own readings at home. Abnormal readings lead to an increase in monitoring frequency and automatic notifications to the patient’s health care provider. Dangerously high readings trigger a trip to the emergency room.

The program has led to marked improvements in women monitoring their blood pressure during their postpartum period, as well as increased personal involvement in their own care. Over 90% of women enrolled in the program continue to monitor their blood pressure for at least a four-week period beyond postpartum. Additionally, women in the program are more likely to attend postpartum visits and report high satisfaction with the program.

“We have successfully been able to leverage technology to monitor at-risk moms very closely to avoid severe complications, while also empowering women in their care. But the real beauty of this program is its scalability. We kicked the program off in Pittsburgh at UPMC Magee and have seamlessly expanded it to UPMC Horizon and UPMC Northwest, where we are addressing disparities among women seeking care in our more rural hospitals,” said Simhan.