Do your patients know their 4 essential numbers?


The key health numbers every patient should know

In brief:

  • Heart disease is the #1 killer in America.
  • Knowing four key health numbers can help patients understand and reduce their risk.
  • These numbers are: blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and weight.
  • Your pharmacy can provide multiple ways to help patients know their numbers.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. It is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths.1 But there are steps patients can take to reduce their risk.

Four numbers are key

The most important numbers in your patients’ lives aren’t their phone number, address, Social Security number or birth date. The crucial numbers patients need to know are their:

  • Cholesterol
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood glucose
  • Weight, or body mass index

By knowing these numbers you can help patients decrease their risks and improve their health.

Note: In 2017, the guidelines for high blood pressure changed. Even patients who thought their number was fine may be considered at risk.2

Since February is American Heart Month, it’s a great time to remind patients to know their numbers and to showcase how you can help them.3

Offer health screenings

Your pharmacy can ensure patients know their numbers by:

  • Providing on-site screenings. You can easily help check patients’ blood pressure. And with a CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) waiver, you can conduct glucose and cholesterol screenings right in the pharmacy. Or you can partner with a provider for patients to sign up for lab work.

While you may check blood pressure for free, you can charge patients directly or bill insurance for some tests.

To handle demand:

  • Set screening hours each week when patients can drop in for screenings.
    • Offer tests by appointment and encourage patients to sign up. Have signs, flyers and postcards, and have staff mention the tests during conversations.
    • Rotate the schedule, such as offering a specific type of screening each month. For example, for February you might market “Stop in and check your blood pressure.”
  • Showing patients how. Promote at-home testing with scales and monitors. When a patient buys a blood pressure cuff or a glucose monitor, take time to explain proper use. Post videos online for reference.

During a weight-loss class you can even show patients how to use a tape measure to check for excess abdominal weight.4  

Develop strong relationships with providers. With a patient’s permission you can share their latest numbers with their doctor. That way everyone on the healthcare team is working together to focus patients on their numbers and how to improve them.

Keep patients on track

Identifying patients’ numbers is only the first step. Use those screenings to spark conversations about what each number means. Speak with patients about what they can do and how your pharmacy and other providers can help.

  • Offer patients ways to track their own numbers. For example, create a blood pressure log with your pharmacy logo, like the American Heart Association offers. Invite a tech-savvy guest speaker to discuss the latest health tracking apps with your patients.
  • Add a calculator to your website. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even offers widgets you can add to your site for people to calculate BMI.
  • Target specific concerns with special classes. For example, bring in experts and offer wellness classes for patients with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Talk regularly with patients about their numbers. Recheck these numbers after patients have had time for interventions to take effect. 

Helping patients know and understand their four key numbers empowers them to take greater control of their health.

1 “Heart Disease Fact Sheet,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Aug. 23, 2017. LINK
2 “Reading the New Blood Pressure Guidelines,” Harvard Men’s Health Watch, April 2018. LINK
3 “The Surprising Truth About Prediabetes,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jan. 12, 2018. LINK
4 “Assessing Your Weight,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 2015. LINK