A text messaging program connected black women at risk of postnatal hypertension with the care they needed to avoid blood pressure complications, Adi Hirshberg, MD, reported at the Pregnancy Meeting.

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The text messaging system increased the compliance rate to 93%, compared with just 30% of those asked to return to the office after hospital discharge. Just as importantly, it completely erased racial disparity in compliance rates, compared with white women, with more than 90% of both groups complying, said Dr. Hirshberg of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

“Our study shows that text-based monitoring eliminated the observed racial disparity in postpregnancy hypertension care,” she said at the meeting sponsored by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. “Using texts as a standard of care would have likely led to medication initiation or adjustment for an additional 20% or more women who missed an office visit. This is an innovative way to equally engage all women in the postpregnancy period.”

Dr. Hirshberg presented a preplanned subanalysis of the Remote Surveillance of Hypertension (TextBP) trial, published last year (BMJ Qual Saf. 2018;27:871-7). The publication gave overall data; this analysis broke results down by race.

TextBP equally randomized 206 postpartum women with pregnancy-induced hypertension to the usual practice of office-based BP monitoring, or to 2 weeks of text-based surveillance using a home BP cuff. It was open to all women with pregnancy-related hypertension who delivered in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Hypertension classes included gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia, and HELLP syndrome before or during the delivery admission. Women were randomized to usual care or to an office-based BP check within the first postpartum week.

The texting platform was developed through Way to Health, a web-based platform within the institution, with secure technological infrastructure. A starting introductory text message was sent by the Way to Health platform to the phone number provided on day of discharge.

Patients received reminders to text message their blood pressure twice daily for 2 weeks post partum, starting on the day after discharge. If the patient reported a systolic BP of more than 160 mm Hg or diastolic more than 110 mm Hg, the clinician received an alert.

The overall results showed that significantly more women in the texting group reported their blood pressure (92% vs. 44%), compared with the controls. Almost everyone in the texting group (84%) met the established criteria for BP measurement.

Dr. Hirshberg and her colleagues wanted to zero in on black women, to discover if the text reminders could help boost their compliance. This is important for a couple of reasons, she said. For one thing, black women face a higher baseline risk of hypertensive disorders and cardiovascular disease, both in general and during and after pregnancy. Second, “for every 100 black women who require postpartum hypertension surveillance, only about a third are likely to attended an office visit after discharge,” leaving them vulnerable to potentially preventable complications of hypertension.

Even in the original analysis, return rates for postpregnancy BP checks were low in both groups and, in fact, seemed to be declining over several years. In 2012, 56% of nonblack and 33% of black women returned for their checks. By 2014, that number had declined to 34% and 20%. The numbers parallel the increasing disparity in U.S. maternal death rate between black women and nonblack women. From 1989 to 2013, the death rate for black mothers doubled, jumping from 20 to 40 deaths per 100,000 live births. During the same period, the death rate for nonblack mothers increased from about 8 to about 11 per 10,000. Dr. Hirshberg said.

In the subanalysis, the primary outcomes were the percentage of patients in whom a blood pressure was obtained in the first 10 days following discharge. In the control office visit group, about 33% of black women had a measurement, compared with 70% of nonblack women – a significant difference. Text messaging, however, completely eliminated the disparity. In the texting group, 91% of nonblack women and 93% of black women had a BP measurement.

There were no hypertension readmissions in the texting arm; there were four in the office-visit arm, three of which occurred in black women.

“This suggests that the traditional office-based follow-up may have resulted in missed opportunities to start an antihypertensive in about 10 of the 55 women who missed their office visit,” Dr. Hirshberg said, adding that “these kinds of early interventions can reduce maternal morbidity and mortality and increase overall health in all.”

She reported no relevant financial disclosures.

SOURCE: Hirshberg A et al. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2019 Jan;220(1):S6, Abstract 7.