The I-TREC program uses NHLBI research-based technology interventions to help people manage diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension). Nikhil Tandon, M.D., leads I-TREC operations in Punjab, India. Dr. Tandon is also the head of the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. I-TREC stemmed from an earlier NHLBI-funded intervention study, which used electronic health record clinical decision support software to help care coordinators track and make health decisions for patients with diabetes. Using that model, patients were more than twice as likely to have better blood sugar levels and lower blood pressure. I-TREC adopted a similar strategy that extends across all levels of health care. Using computer algorithms, it connects hospitals, doctor’s offices, and specialists. I-TREC tracks referrals and health records and gives health decision support for doctors so they can customize their patients’ care plans.

Research staff from the I-TREC group who oversaw training for the field team staff.
Research staff from the I-TREC group who oversaw training for the field team staff.

 Fast Fact. The I-TREC team is one of five in the world selected for a collaborative NHLBI grant called the Hypertension Outcomes for T4 REsearch within Lower Middle-Income Countries (Hy-TREC) program. NHLBI’s Center for Translation Research and Implementation Science (CTRIS) leads Hy-TREC. The program implements strategies that help prevent, treat, and control high blood pressure before it leads to heart disease. 

Sweet Inspiration. Being able to share his love for science with others who want to help people get healthier has been Dr. Tandon’s biggest motivator. “NHLBI and Hy-TREC provide a platform for collaboration between similar-minded teams who want to share strategies,” he said. As a doctor, he tries to find new ways to make sure the information he gives his patients translates into actions they can take for themselves. Dr. Tandon said he’s thankful NHLBI, through I-TREC, has given him a path to do that on a larger scale. 

Big Impact. Of the 220 million adults with high blood pressure in India, only 1 in 12 people control it (Varghese, Jithin Sam et al., 2023). I-TREC helps address the problem by following patients during every step of health care process: from before the condition even appears to controlling it when it does. This model of care has been adopted by many providers in India’s public health system. “Different states may have different approaches,” said Dr. Tandon. “But I-TREC has an endorsement from the central government as a strategy that works.” 

Bright Future. The I-TREC team conducts exit interviews with patients about their doctor visits to track I-TREC’s use and effectiveness. Although results won’t be published until mid-2024, Dr. Tandon said what he’s seen so far is encouraging. If successful, he hopes that I-TREC will be able to extend its reach more broadly by helping people from disadvantaged populations around the world.