THURSDAY, May 1, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Remote monitoring can improve the condition of mobile heart failure patients and may reduce hospital readmissions, according to a pilot study that included 150 patients admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
The patients, average age 70, were randomly selected to receive usual care for heart failure (68 patients) or remote monitoring (42 patients). Forty of the patients declined to participate. The study was conducted by the Center for Connected Health, a division of Partners HealthCare.
The patients in the remote monitoring group received telemonitoring equipment to track vital signs such as heart rate, pulse and blood pressure. They weighed themselves daily and answered a set of questions about symptoms every day. The information was transmitted via the telemonitoring device to a nurse, who would call weekly or more often if a patient's vital signs were outside normal parameters.
After three months, patients in the remote monitoring group had lower average hospital readmission rates (31 percent) compared to patients in usual care (38 percent) and those who refused to participate (45 percent). The patients in the remote monitoring group also had fewer heart failure-related readmissions and emergency room visits than patients in the other two groups.
"The goal of our Connected Cardiac Care program for this group of patients is to reduce hospital readmissions, provide timely intervention and help them understand their condition using home telemonitoring," lead author Dr. Ambar Kulshreshtha, a research fellow at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, said in a prepared statement.
"Participating physicians are pleased with the program and consider it a success," said Kulshreshtha, who added that the initial data suggests that "Connected Cardiac Care is a win-win for our patients and health-care providers," and has the potential to have "a dramatic impact on improving the lives of heart failure patients and reducing hospital admissions."
The findings were expected to be presented Thursday at the American Heart Association's Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke, in Baltimore.
The researchers plan to expand the Connected Cardiac Care program to target 350 mobile heart failure patients by this summer.
An estimated 5.3 million Americans have heart failure, and hospital discharges for the condition increased from 400,000 in 1979 to 1.08 million in 2005, an increase of 171 percent, according to background information in a news release about the study.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about heart failure.