Personalised digital intervention to battle high blood pressure

By motivating and reminding a person to take her medication, based on her own needs and behaviour, researchers at Halmstad University strive to improve medication adherence for patients with hypertension. The reasons for not taking prescribed medication vary – it can be forgetfulness, fear of side effects or lack of understanding the consequences – but the medication is important for preventing for example congestive heart failure or stroke. Individualised digital tools is one way to assist patients with high blood pressure in self-empowerment and hence increase medication adherence.

Illustration. A hand holding a smart phone with a heart on the screen. Heart beat diagram and pills across the illustration.

”We hope that our solution can deliver the right intervention at the right time for the right person by predicting the patients’ behaviour.”

Kobra Etminani

In a newly published article in The Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), a group of researchers at Halmstad University conclude that there is a need for better tailored digital interventions to give individual support for patients with hypertension (high blood pressure).

“Our studies show that it is crucial to consider behavioural strategies while designing digital interventions for hypertensive patients in order to increase their adherence to medication and improve their blood pressure control. People have different reasons for their non-compliance to for example medication, physical exercise, a healthy diet or their treatment plan, resulting in uncontrolled blood pressure. That is why it is so important with an adaptive personalised digital intervention in order to deliver the right intervention to each individual, and not delivering everything to all the patients. There is no one-size-fits-all solution”, says Kobra Etminani, Assistant Professor in Information Technology at Halmstad University, and one of the involved researchers.

Creating a digital tool for patients

 A smiling woman with curly dark hair and folded arms leaning against a bookcase. Photo.

Kobra Etminani.

The research is done together with Region Halland in a project called iMedA (Improving Medication Adherence through Person Centred Care and Adaptive Intervention). The goal of iMedA is to increase the probability of hypertensive patients picking up and taking their prescribed medication. First of all, the research group collected the behavioural reasons for non-adherence. This was done by analysing patient data using data mining, a computing process of discovering patterns in large data sets. The next step is to use these behavioural patterns from the patient data to create a prototype of a digital intervention tool that can be adapted to individual needs and behaviour. Part of this step includes the systematic review published in the JMIR.

“We hope that our solution can deliver the right intervention at the right time for the right person by predicting the patients’ behaviour. An intervention can for example be a reminder for a forgetful or busy person, an informational content covering the lack of information barrier or a motivational message for the unmotivated person. The point is to influence the patient in an individual way. The digital intervention tool will adapt over time and can be used by both the patient and healthcare staff to increase the medication-compliance and blood pressure control”, says Kobra Etminani.

Text: Louise Wandel
Photo: Ida Fridvall
Illustration: iStock

About iMedA

The research project iMedA (Improving Medication Adherence through Person Centred Care and Adaptive Intervention) is cross disciplinary, involving researchers from two research environments at Halmstad University, Embedded Intelligent Systems (EIS) and Center for Research on Welfare, Health and Sport (CVHI), as well as from Region Halland. This research project is well in line with the University’s profile area Health Innovation.

iMedA research project External link.