The expected boom in remote monitoring has been somewhat restrained by the dearth of scientific studies proving that such technologies can save lives and money. Slowly, though, the body of evidence is building.
A new addition to the literature is an Australian study showing that access to home-based telemonitoring devices can lower mortality in patients with chronic heart failure and that even remote monitoring by telephone can reduce the need for expensive hospital admissions. The study was published over the weekend in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
"By monitoring the condition of patients in their own home on a regular basis, it may be possible to identify when the patient's condition is deteriorating," lead researcher Dr. Sally Inglis says in an email interview with DOTmed News. "In some instances, this can be addressed by changes to lifestyle or medications and, in turn, may avoid the patient having to be hospitalized."
Among those with heart failure who were monitored by home-based devices and wireless or Internet connections, the mortality rate was 102 per 1,000 patients. That compares to a rate of 154 deaths per 1,000 in the control group, the research team reports. They found no significant benefits in terms of mortality for patients who received structured support or self-care management via telephone.
However, telephone support does appear to have an effect on hospitalization rates. During the study period, 164 per 1,000 in the telephone-support group had to be admitted for heart ailments, compared to 213 per 1,000 in the control group. Those with access to active telemonitoring had a hospitalization rate of 225 per 1,000, lower than the 284 hospitalizations per 1,000 patients in the control group.
"It appears that these interventions may reduce the frequency of hospitalization and for telemonitoring, reduce mortality," Inglis says. "These findings are important because chronic heart failure is common, especially in older-aged individuals, and leads to frequent hospitalization, shortens life-expectancy and reduces quality of life."
The researchers did not examine the cost-effectiveness of remote monitoring technologies, though, and say they need more information to make such a determination. They also did not look at the privacy and security of patient information transmitted via telephone or from home monitors.