Case Study

Overcoming barriers to hypertension treatment for patients, physicians, and pharmacists

The Challenge

While most patients recognize the seriousness of high blood pressure, many do not get sufficient explanations and support from medical professionals, contributing to a lack of adherence to medication regimens. This is in addition to barriers such as insurance issues and the high cost of care and medication. Pharmacists, who are often overworked, also lack the resources to adequately meet patient needs.

The Department of Health enlisted Zebra Strategies to tackle the issue of high blood pressure amongst New Yorkers.

Our Initial Findings

We conducted five focus groups with distinct demographics of New York City residents: two focus groups composed of New Yorkers with high blood pressure, one of Chinese speakers, one of Spanish speakers, and a group comprised of New Yorkers aged 18­–34 who had not been diagnosed with high blood pressure. We also conducted two groups with pharmacists and pharma technicians working in New York.

The insights were clear:

  • Additional knowledge and engaging educational materials regarding diet, lifestyle changes, and medication adherence would motivate people to take action and better maintain their blood pressure
  • Payment systems and refill reminders should be streamlined so that adherence to medication is simpler

Actionable Insights

Once our research was completed, Zebra Strategies presented a comprehensive report to the DOH on our findings. This helped inform several initiatives, including:

A citywide high blood pressure initiative, “Take the Pressure Off, NYC!” which includes a strategic payer initiative to improve and align health insurance coverage of key benefits for high blood pressure control

A coaching guide for physicians and pharmacists that could be shared with patients 

The Heart Age Calculator as well as a Hypertension Action Kit that provides clinical tools, provider resources, and patient education materials to help optimize hypertension management