Telemonitoring might have little effect on the rates of hospitalizations and emergency department visits among seniors with heart, lung or kidney disease, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Reuters reports.
Over a one-year period, researchers studied 205 elderly patients in Minnesota who were found to be at high risk for hospitalization based on their age and current medical conditions, which included heart failure, lung disease, diabetes and kidney disease.
Half of the patients received at-home telemonitoring systems that took health measurements -- such as blood pressure and weight -- for five to 10 minutes daily. The telemonitoring group also could talk with nurses over the phone or through videoconferencing technology.
The other half of the patients continued receiving their usual treatment, which included primary care and specialist visits.
The study found that both groups had similar rates of hospitalizations and ED visits. About 64% of the patients in the telemonitoring group were hospitalized or visited the ED, compared with 57% of the control group.
Researchers also found that about 15% of the patients in the telemonitoring group died during the course of the study, compared with 4% of the patients in the control group. The researchers did not have an explanation for this finding but suggested that the two patient populations could have been different in unmeasured ways, such as support they received from caregivers.
Study author Paul Takahashi of the Mayo Clinic said the study findings suggest a need for further research so physicians can learn how to manage the constant flow of data from telemonitoring systems.
Researchers said the study does not indicate that telemonitoring will never be effective. However, they noted that the findings suggest that the in-home technology might not be useful for all patients (Pittman, Reuters, 4/16).