Hypertension is a chronic disease that can lead to serious health problems. Patients with arterial hypertension are required to measure their blood pressure at home, which can have some drawbacks, such as forgetting to checkitor recordingthe values, errors in writing downthe figures,the inability to immediately notify health care staff about out-of-range blood pressure values, etc.
So three UPV/EHU researchers—LeyreEcheazarrafrom theDepartment of Physiology,JuananPereira from the Department of Computer Languages and Systems, and Ramón Saracho from theDepartment of Medicine—have created TensioBot, achatbotor computer system capable of simulating conversations to help patients take their blood pressure at home.
It is a Telegram-based bot.It sends patients reminders to check their blood pressure, advice on good blood pressurecheckingpractices, tracks measurements (presenting data in graph format), sends medical alerts and allows healthcare staff to access updated measurement information.”
Juanan Pereira, Researcher, University of the Basque Country
TensioBot has been tested over a two-year period with 112 patients (half used the bot and half did not).It has been shown that although the bot group displayed similar results to the non-bot group in terms of adherence to the blood pressure monitoring program, the bot users displayed better results in terms of knowledge and skills on best practices forchecking blood pressure.The users have also rated the bot very positively, have highlighted its usefulness and ease of use, and have even continued to use it afterthe test phasewasover.Healthcareprofessionals have alsogiventhe bot’s usefulnessthe green light, as they can obtain data automatically without having to input them manuallyinto the computer.
Pereira pointed out that “beingable to use instant messagingis a great advantage,given that the users (generally elderly) have no problem in using it.They are highly accustomed to using Whatsapp, Telegram, etc.Besides, they don’t know that there is a machine behind the chat”.The chat is prepared for use in Basque, Spanish and English and has been published under an open-source licenceso that it can be used in other hospitals and programs.In addition, if you want to use it in other languages,the only thing that needs to be done is translate the chat threads.
On the other hand, “it is a verycost-effective and efficient system, as no special installation or production is required, and we are already exploring possibilities for other areas”.Specifically, Ramón Saracho is exploringin his thesis the possible use of apps of this type in the daily work of doctors.Going forward, they have other lines of research in mind:”Today we use text, but voice interfaces are increasingly being created in all languages.In addition, another line of improvement would be to achieve automatic communication between the measurement system and the bot, but it would have tobe Telegram that allows the connection,” Pereira said. He also stressed that such systems could be very useful in the current pandemic situation, for example, to avoid having to go to health centres in person.
University of the Basque Country
Echeazarra, L., et al. (2021) TensioBot: a Chatbot Assistant for Self-Managed in-House Blood Pressure Checking. Journal of Medical Systems. doi.org/10.1007/s10916-021-01730-x.