Study: mHealth reduces length, frequency of hospitalization

By Brian Dolan
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A study set to be published in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that mobile phone-based telemonitoring of patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) has the potential to reduce frequency and duration of heart failure hospitalizations. The study also included a caveat that ensuring elderly patients, in particular, could use the mobile phone-based service's user interface comfortably would be a key challenge for any mobile-based service.

The objective of the Mobile Telemonitoring in Heart Failure Patients Study (MOBITEL) was to evaluate the impact of home-based telemonitoring, which uses Internet and mobile phone technology, on the outcome of heart failure patients after an episode of acute decompensation.

The researchers randomly allocated patients into a control group with pharmacological treatment or to a group with pharmacological treatment and telemedical surveillance for 6 months (the "tele" group). Patients in the second group were given mobile phone based patient terminals for data acquisition an data transmission to a monitoring center. The study's physicians had continuous access to this data via a secure online portal, and if a certain patient's data was transmitted as outside their personalized Patients randomized into the tele group were equipped with mobile phone-based patient terminals for data acquisition and data transmission to the monitoring center. Study physicians had continuous access to the data via a secure Web portal and received email alerts when a patient's data strayed from expected levels. The "primary endpoint" was set down as hospitalization because of worsening chronic heart failure or death from cardiovascaular disease.

Results:

The control group of 54 patients saw 18 group members or 33 percent reach the primary endpoint -- one death and 17 hospitalizations.

The tele group of 54 patients saw 12 group members drop out right away because they were unable to use the mobile phone and four group members did not finish the study for unspecified "personal reasons." The rest of the group saw 17 percent reach the primary endpoint as there were 11 hospitalizations and zero deaths in the tele group.

Tele group patients who were hospitalized for worsening heart failure during the study had a significantly shorter length of stay (median 6.5 days) compared with control group patients (median 10.0 days).

For more detailed results from the study, read this abstract over at JMIR