A new study from Germany, published in The Lancet, has shown that for patients with chronic heart failure, supplementing traditional care with remote patient management intervention via telemedicine can reduce hospitalizations and increase life expectancies in both rural and urban settings. During the study, patient data measured at home was transmitted to the telemedicine center for immediate analysis; a deterioration in values was addressed instantly, such as adjusting the medication dosage, with a recommendation for an outpatient office visit or inpatient treatment.
In the trial, over 1,500 patients around the country were enrolled; half were randomly assigned to receive only the usual care, while the remaining half received the usual care plus home monitoring via telemedicine. The primary goals of the study were to avoid unplanned hospitalizations for cardiovascular reasons, to continue treatment outside the hospital setting for as long as possible, and to increase life expectancy. Additional study aims included increasing the patient’s quality of life, enabling patients to self-manage their care, and testing whether telemedicine used in this way could be used to compensate for deficits in health care coverage between rural and urban regions.
The study authors found that the telemedical intervention group spent significantly fewer days in the hospital due to unplanned hospitalizations for heart failure. All-cause mortality among this group was also lower than that of the control group. The results did not differ between rural or metropolitan areas, suggesting that telemedicine may be an appropriate tool for equalizing the quality of care available for rural and urban residents.
The researchers plan to follow up with the study participants one year after the conclusion of the study in order to determine whether the telemedical intervention had a lasting effect on disease progress beyond the treatment.