Telephone follow-up curbs heart failure readmissions, mortality

For chronic heart failure patients, case management interventions involving telephone follow-up reduce all-cause readmissions and all-cause mortality a year after discharge, according to a new Cochrane Review study.

Patients who were intensively monitored by phone calls also were less likely to be readmitted to the hospital after six months.

"We weren't able to identify the optimal components of case-management interventions, but telephone follow up by a specialist nurse was a very common element," research spokesperson Stephanie Taylor said today in a statement.

However, researchers noted that follow-up via heart failure clinics didn't change all cause mortality or CHF-related readmissions compared with patients receiving standard care.

Similarly, New York City's Bellevue Hospital Center has found success by incorporating phone calls into its care coordination efforts to keep patients from bouncing back to the emergency department. For example, it holds weekly conference calls among primary care doctors, visiting nurse services, methadone programs and substance abuse programs. Thanks to the phone calls, overall ED visits dropped 10 percent and hospitalizations fell about 40 percent.

Further advocating the benefits of remote follow-up, a study published last month in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that adding phone calls, text messages and emails improve self-monitoring of activities and behaviors such as diet, exercise and smoking.

For more:
- here's the research announcement
- read the study abstract