This month's learning from abroad
Pharmacies supporting 24-hour BP and ECG measuring
Case study from Italy
Community pharmacies in Italy that are part of Alphega Farmacia are offering patients the opportunity to undergo 24-hour monitoring of blood pressure and/or electrocardiograms (ECGs) without having to visit a hospital clinic.
Continuous 24-hour monitoring of blood pressure and ECG are the gold standard for assessing cardiovascular conditions, including hypertension and arrhythmias. By having the patient wear a monitoring system over a complete day and night, cardiologists are able to pick up transient arrhythmias and assess when blood pressure is at its highest and lowest. It also allows them to associate events with particular stresses or behaviours.
For the pharmacy-based service, patients have the measuring holter fitted in the pharmacy, avoiding the need to visit a hospital or clinic. Data is collected over a 24-hour period and is then uploaded to a cardiology clinic for assessment.
The cardiologist sends the report back to the pharmacy. The pharmacist then gives a report to the patient and advises on any next steps depending on the cardiologist's recommendations.
The service started towards the end of 2011. There are now 110 Alphega pharmacies offering the service, carrying out around 3,400 exams a year. Support offered by Alphega includes an online training tutorial, a PowerPoint presentation and technical support in the pharmacy during the first occasion that the service is being provided.
As well as being more convenient, the prices charged by pharmacies for this service are more competitive than those offered by hospital clinics.