Remote monitoring saves lives of heart failure patients, research shows

Remote monitoring of patients with chronic heart failure can reduce deaths and hospitalisations, a Cochrane review has found.

Monitoring of such patients by telephone or telemonitoring cuts healthcare costs and improves quality of life, an international team of researchers found.

In a review of 25 studies including 9,500 patients with chronic heart disease, researchers compared use of telephone and remote monitoring against standard care.

Patients using telephone support provide health data, such as heart rate and rhythm, BP and weight, over the phone, whereas telemonitoring involves digital or wireless transmission of data to a specialist.

They found that telemonitoring was effective at reducing mortality in patients with chronic heart failure. Under telemonitoring, there were 102 deaths per 1,000 people compared with 154 deaths per 1,000 in the standard care group.

However, no significant benefit was seen with structured telephone support on mortality for patients in these trials. Here, 112 patients died using telephone support, compared with 127 per 1,000 in the standard care group.

Both telephone support and telemonitoring reduced the number of patients who were admitted to hospital due to worsening of heart failure.

Lead researcher Sally Inglis said: ‘These technologies can provide specialised care to a large number of patients who otherwise may have limited access to this type of specialised healthcare.’

In addition, some studies showed patients’ quality of life improved and that health care costs had been reduced.

Ms Inglis added: ‘More work is required on the cost-effectiveness of telemonitoring to establish the best business models. These may vary depending on the local organisation of health services. The optimal duration of monitoring has not yet been addressed.’

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