EHR Study Affirms Benefits of Non-Primary Care Blood Pressure Tests

March 18, 2015 in News

Expanding blood pressure screenings to non-primary care settings could help identify more patients with hypertension and result in improved control and management of the condition, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension that examined more than one million electronic health records, Health Data Management reports (Goth, Health Data Management, 3/18).

Details of Study

For the study, Kaiser Permanente researchers analyzed the EHRs of about 1,076,000 Kaiser Permanente Southern California patients who received treatment at primary care and non-primary care settings between January 2009 and March 2011 (Handler et al., Journal of Clinical Hypertension, 3/13).

The study examined how many cases of hypertension were identified among the patients and compared the characteristics of patients who were diagnosed with the condition in primary care settings versus non-primary care settings.

Study Findings

The study found that about 112,000 of the patients were diagnosed with high blood pressure by the end of the study period. Of those, the study found that:

  • 83% were diagnosed in a primary care setting; and
  • 17% were diagnosed in a non-primary care setting.

Of the patients diagnosed in non-primary care settings, the study found that:

  • 25% were diagnosed in ophthalmological care settings;
  • 19% were diagnosed in neurological care settings; and
  • 13% were diagnosed in dermatological care settings.

Researchers found that the rates of false positives for hypertension were similar among primary care and non-primary care settings, which the researchers said indicated that screenings were similarly accurate for both setting types.

Meanwhile, the study also found that patients diagnosed with hypertension in non-primary care settings were more likely than those diagnosed in primary care settings to smoke and have chronic kidney disease and to be older, male and non-Hispanic white. In addition, researchers found that patients diagnosed in non-primary care settings were less likely to be obese.


Study lead author Joel Handler said, “Patients who do not see their primary care providers on a regular basis may have hypertension that goes unrecognized. For this reason, expanding hypertension screening to non-primary care settings may be an opportunity to improve early hypertension recognition and control” (Health Data Management, 3/18).

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