Review of Tensio for iPhone
There are nearly 70 million Americans with high blood pressure and anywhere from a third to a half of them don’t have their blood pressure under control.
Tensio is an app designed to help people manage high blood pressure. It’s designed by Humetrix, whose iBlueButton apps have been a consistent iMedicalApps favorite.
The app works with HealthKit and, on first use, gets your permission to get data including demographic information, blood pressure, weight, step count, sodium intake, and potassium intake. It’s also designed to work with the iBlueButton app, which automatically pulls health information for patients with certain types of insurance (like Medicare or those in the VA system).
The app opens to the main screen with the most recent heart rate & blood pressure at the top followed by several alerts in the form of tabs.
The first time you use the app, you’ll be asked to enter targets for things like blood pressure, sodium intake, and step counts. When doing that, Tensio reminds you to set these targets in conjunction with your doctor. I particularly appreciated that not just because it ensures people have the appropriate targets but, more importantly, it encourages that discussion with their doctor.
You can also set up reminders for everything you’re tracking, such as checking your blood pressure every morning or weight every few days. That didn’t quite make as much sense to me for things like sodium intake (what exactly are you reminding yourself to do?). You can also set up medication reminders when you’re entering your medications (see below); you can’t however track that you took them.
Reviewing blood pressure history is pretty limited. The blood pressure review screen only shows the last blood pressure, average blood pressure, and baseline blood pressure. I also didn’t see any functionality to share data with your doctor.
One glaring deficit we noted in the app is that you can’t manually enter blood pressure, so you’re out of luck unless you have an iPhone compatible blood pressure monitor. Given those monitors already have apps (and generally pretty good ones), I hoped Tensio would target people without those devices which it obviously doesn’t.
The app also includes tips, in the form of alerts, on managing hypertension. For example, it reminds patients to use an FDA approved and clinically validated wireless BP monitor and gives advice on how to properly measure blood pressure. I did note there that it includes Qardio as an option – however, as we previously pointed out, Qardio currently hasn’t published their independent third party validation.
Other tips cover areas like low sodium foods, guidance on getting more aerobic exercise, and feedback on how you’re doing relative to your targets such as falling behind on your step count. Unfortunately, there aren’t any references for where these tips are coming from. Ed. Note: According to Humetrix, recommendations were pulled from European and American practice guidelines by physicians on their team.
Information on medication and health conditions are manually entered by tapping on the first and second icons on the bottom navigation bar. I was disappointed with the medication and health condition entry, which is way too complicated. Entering lisinopril got 400+ results and hypertension got 30.
One feature I couldn’t test out is integration with iBlueButton from which Tensio can apparently import information on health conditions and medications (according to the FAQ). We discussed this feature with Dr. Chris Burrow, executive vice president at Humetrix and nephrologist. According to Dr. Burrow, a big focus of the app design was integration with iBlueButton. iBlueButton automatically pulls health data from Medicare, the VA, insurance plans, other Blue Button enabled portals, and health records sent by doctors or hospitals. That includes health conditions, medications, and more. Using App Groups, Tensio can pull information relevant to high blood pressure from iBlueButton. It then flags things that could affect your blood pressure, like a new diagnosis of thyroid disease or starting a prostate medication.
Finally, the app works with Apple Watch so alerts, like reminders to be more active or to check your blood pressure, can be viewed without having to pull out your phone.
- Integrates with HealthKit
- Encourages discussion with doctor about targets for blood pressure, weight, salt intake, and more.
- Simple user interface
- Integration with iBlueButton (if you have it)
- Can’t manually enter blood pressure measurements
- Poor visualization and sharing functionality
- Lack of references on where recommendations come from
- Complicated medication and medical condition entry
While Humetrix has some great apps out there, Tensio falls short in too many areas to be recommended at this time unless you already use iBlueButton. For people with connected devices, it doesn’t offer more than the apps that come with those devices. And for people that don’t have connected devices (where this app could thrive), it doesn’t let users enter blood pressure information manually. And that’s even before addressing the other issues. I think Humetrix can do better and hope to see significant changes to future versions. In the meantime, if you do already use iBlueButton, then Tensio could be a good option especially if the data sharing and visualization improve in future versions.
- Overall Score
- User Interface
Simple user interface, just missing some key elements
- Multimedia Usage
Lack of visualization tools for blood pressure tracking
App needs to deliver more to justify cost
- Real World Applicability
Between apps that come with devices and free blood pressure diary apps, Tensio’s place isn’t that clear
- Device Used For Review
- Available for DownloadiPhone