Pharmacies offering the new Hypertension Case-Finding Service need to focus on converting more patients to ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM), according to a recent webinar by Community Pharmacy England (CPE).

The service, relaunched on 1 December 2023, now requires contractors to have an ABPM device as well as their clinic meter. The CPE webinar, which provided information and guidance on the service, highlighted ABPM uptake as a ‘key issue’.

ABPM devices, which measure an individual’s blood pressure automatically at regular points as they go through their normal daily life, appear to cost around £1,000.

David Onuoha, service development manager for CPE, told the webinar that large numbers of patients with high blood pressure were being identified but greater conversion of those patients through to ABPM was necessary.

‘That’s where we will truly be seen as a supportive partner in proactive case finding of patients,’ he said. ‘So there needs to be greater focus on convincing those patients to take up the offer of ABPM.’

Mr Onuoha told the webinar that there had been ‘some availability issues’ with ABPM devices shortly after the relaunch of the Hypertension Case-Finding Service, but added that ‘hopefully, that’s now moved on’.

Dr Yeyenta Osasu, national pharmacy integration lead for NHS England, emphasised the importance of ABPM data over clinic blood pressure readings.

‘It’s the turnover from clinic blood pressures to ambulatory that our general practice teams want to see because that’s what gives them a real indication of those who have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and those who potentially have hypertension,’ she said.

According to Dr Osasu, feedback from general practices suggested that ‘they can’t really do much with the [clinic] snapshot readings’ and they created more workload for GP teams.

Data shared by Dr Osasu showed that in August 2023, 34% of all case-finding clinic checks were suitable for ABPM follow-up but only 3.5% of patients with raised blood pressure were being followed up with ABPM.

‘This is the key area we want to be focusing on,’ she said. ‘We don’t want people to fall through the cracks.’

Paula Higginson, head of learning development at the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) emphasised the need for pharmacists to build their rapport with patients in their efforts to increase ABPM conversions.

She said: ‘There’s very much some thinking at the moment that if we can improve the rapport we have with our patients and if we can be a little bit more effective in the way that we manage public expectations of the service then we might be able to drive forwards with proactively increasing the uptake of ABPM through this service.’

The full webinar is available to view via the CPE website.