A smartphone pilot study has highlighted a potential solution for White Coat Syndrome - the medical phenomenon responsible for sending some patients' blood pressure soaring in the GP surgery.
Patient Angela Howard was able to prove that her surgery blood pressure test results were uncharacteristically high and not an accurate reflection of her actual health in a month-long trial of the Personal Health Record (PHR) within EMIS Health's Patient Access app.
Using an iHealth blood pressure cuff connected to an Apple device, Angela collected blood pressure readings at home and shared them electronically with Dr Alistair Walling, her GP at the Ashfield Medical Centre in Crossgates, Leeds.
Angela gave Dr Walling permission to compare the home test results recorded in her Personal Health Record with those in her surgery record. The results of blood pressure tests taken at home were normal, proving that she did not need further treatment.
Also known as White Coat Hypertension, those with the condition only provide blood pressure readings considered unhealthy within a clinical setting such as a hospital ward, clinic and GP surgery. Clinicians believe that it is caused by anxiety about having a medical appointment.
Angela, who lives in Crossgates, Leeds, said: "I'm diabetic but have generally good health. I was tested with really high blood pressure during one of my routine check ups.
"Unfortunately, the medication I was given made me feel quite ill and I was determined to prove that I didn't really need to use it.
"Taking part in this trial has been brilliant because it has proven that I don't really have high blood pressure and can now get on with doing the things I want to do in order to improve my health, such as going to the gym.
"I'd recommend using the Patient Access Personal Health Record to anyone. It's so easy to use and it has provided me with real peace of mind."
Dr Walling said that Angela's medical history made her the perfect patient to trial using the Personal Health Record from EMIS Health as a solution for White Coat Syndrome.
"The outcome of this trial was really pleasing both for Angela and for us," he added. " We found that the readings that she was taking at home were within normal limits.
"Obviously, we'll keep an eye on things over time and the situation may change. But for now, it's really promising."
Dr Walling said the PHR could enable GPs to make better-informed decisions when treating patients with a range of problems, including asthma, diabetes and weight issues.
EMIS Health's personal health record - integrated with Apple's HealthKit - enables UK citizens to manage their own health in partnership with their GP and other health professionals. More than 13,500 users have logged 4.4 million pieces of information since the PHR was launched last year.
Patients connect with their PHR via the Patient Access smartphone app, which can also be used to book GP appointments and view life-long medical records.
Tim East, Senior Product Manager at EMIS Health, said: "We're really pleased with the outcome of this trial. It provides us with a platform to support the wider adoption of the Personal Health Record within the NHS."
For more information about the Personal Health Record visit www.patient.info/personal-health-record