Study: Telemonitoring Device Implants Improve Patient Outcomes

August 18, 2014 in News

Implantable heart rhythm devices that automatically send vital cardiac readings to a telemonitoring center were linked with improved patient outcomes, according to a study published in the journal Lancet, MedPage Today reports.

Study Details

For the study, researchers monitored 664 patients with chronic heart failure who received one of two defibrillator devices at 36 centers in Europe, Israel and Australia.

The devices were equipped with a Biotronik Home Monitoring function, which sent diagnostic data at a set time each day or when it detected abnormal heart beats called tachyarrhythmia. The data were received by a small portable device that transmitted it to the Biotronik Home Monitoring Service Center in Berlin, where the data were automatically processed and posted to a secure website for patients’ providers to view.

The researchers randomly assigned the patients to two groups:

  • Those who were treated using data from the daily home monitoring protocol; and
  • A control group that continued to receive the European standard care treatment, with physicians determining appropriate follow up care without consulting the telemonitoring data.  

Study Findings

According to the study, the devices detected a mean of four events per patient, resulting in an average of 2.1 contacts per patient (Susman, MedPage Today, 8/16).

Specifically, the study found:

  • 18.9% of telemonitoring patients showed worsened conditions, compared with 27.2% in the unmonitored control group; and
  • 10 patient deaths in the telemonitoring group, compared with 27 in in the control group (Lancet study, 8/16).

Reaction

Although “evidence is weak,” the researchers — led by Gerhard Hindricks of Leipzig University Herzzentrum in Germany — wrote that the study suggests daily telemonitoring “can significantly improve clinical outcomes for patients with heart failure.”

In an accompanying editorial, Martin Cowie of Royal Brompton Hospital said that “many questions remain” surrounding the use of telemonitoring devices. For example, he wrote that physicians must decide:

  • How to set up telemonitoring services; and
  • Which technologies to use.

In addition, Robert Bonow — a spokesperson for the American Heart Association — said that the researchers must ask “whether just better surveillance by clinicians would have achieved the same results” (MedPage Today, 8/16).

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