This Valentine's Day, when you are out making a mad dash to your local pharmacy for the perfect card, you may consider checking your blood pressure at the pharmacy's kiosk. We'd like to whisper sweet nothings in your ear about 3 things to consider while having your BP measurement taken at a kiosk.
While blood pressure checks have historically been standard at community health fairs and elder-care centers, the local branch of your bank is not necessarily where you expect a check up and reminder of tips on healthy living. But with the trend in the US, the UK, and other countries of raising self-awareness for personal health, healthcare services and organizations are exploring new, proactive ways to bring simple services like education and monitoring to their communities.
At a public shopping mall, Covenant Health has been running a multi-service kiosk, which uses automated BP monitors for self-measurement. While this is not so different than the BP kiosks that have been in pharmacies, grocery stores, and other public places for many years, Wegmans, a grocery store chain in the east coast of the USA, understands that these health initiatives need to be supported by educational information and recommendations to see a clinician for credible, actionable diagnosis and treatment. To aid in the education of this trend, the following are the top three factors to consider when you decide to have your blood pressure taken at a blood pressure kiosk:
- Remember that your blood pressure changes just like your heart rate. Exert yourself by walking up the stairs or even just dealing with the stresses of the workplace, and your BP and heart rate may be higher than what you are used to seeing in a doctor’s office or at home. Some level of this variability is normal.
- One measurement is just that… it’s one instance in time. It’s one data point. In fact, clinicians and experts in BP are increasingly placing more emphasis on the average of several measurements over a given period of time instead of focusing on just one measurement. A single high measurement may be due to dealing with the stress of being in a public place like the mall or being sick.
- BP measurement is like any diagnostic test. It’s not always 100% accurate. While there are standards that BP monitors, including kiosks, must meet in order to be sold on the market, automated BP devices are not fool-proof. Some of the factors that affect BP measurements are covered in other blog posts:
Given these factors, it’s important to take the right perspective when you have your BP measured in a public place. In fact, one group who studied the use of a public access kiosk found that over 70% of users had high blood pressure. While this might be alarming, they came to the following balanced, sensible conclusions:
“These statistics clearly illustrate the heart-health challenges facing our city… However, they also show that the population of people using these downtown kiosks beat the national average in terms of blood pressure. The Wellness Stations are terrific tools in helping people gauge their own health.”
In the end, engaging people about their health in their daily lives is the goal, one for which kiosks may serve as a cost-effective solution.