Nearly half of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, and of these, almost half (45.6%) are not controlled. High blood pressure contributes to major health conditions such as heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, diabetes and other health concerns. The American Heart Association and American Medical Association teamed up to launch Target: BP to improve blood pressure control and build a healthier nation.

Much like a patient with diabetes monitors blood sugar at home, self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) is when a patient regularly monitors their own blood pressure (BP) in their home or elsewhere outside of the clinical setting. According to Target: BP, SMBP helps improve the accuracy of diagnosing hypertension, assists with better management of patient blood pressure and helps patients adhere to treatment because they have a more active role in the process.

Highlights from the 2017 Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults includes a focus on SMBP. The guideline states that office BPs are often higher than BPs taken at home. In a presentation at the ND Hypertension Summit in March 2019, Laken Barkowski, BSN, RN, MSHS, with the American Medical Association stated, “Accurate, representative BP readings are needed to make sound medical decisions. SMBP readings are more likely to represent a patient’s true BP than a single office blood pressure reading.”

Barkowski has seen first-hand the impact SMBP can have for the patient population. She was so impressed with the success of the program implemented at the primary care office where she was employed, she was inspired to join the AMA team to help spread the program nationally.

An SMBP program has many facets. Staff and patients need training on proper BP-measuring technique, including selecting a BP monitoring device and proper sizing of BP cuff. Also consider:

  • Budget issues if offering loaner devices
  • How will patient data be exchanged and acted upon
  • Which guideline is being used to interpret the data
  • Scheduling time for training staff, and also for extra staff time needed to train patients
  • Purchasing and managing loaner devices; how to keep track of them, validation and cleaning

“SMBP can empower people to take a more active role and make a difference in their own health. We are starting to see a national movement to implementing SMBP programs into primary care practices. The evidence shows that people who are more involved in their own healthcare have better outcomes. It is all about what we can do for the patient,” states Lisa Thorp, RN, BSN, CDE, Great Plains QIN Quality Improvement Specialist.


Great Plains QIN is partnering with healthcare professionals in our region to implement preventive cardiovascular best practices by offering resources and one-on-one technical assistance. Click here to learn more.