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Telehealth Remote Monitoring for Community-Dwelling Older Adults with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Telemedicine and e-Health. September 2013, 19(9): 652-657. doi:10.1089/tmj.2012.0244. Kristen De San Miguel, Joanna Smith, and Gill Lewin

Objective: To determine if self-monitoring via home-based telehealth equipment could, when combined with ongoing remote monitoring by a nurse, reduce the incidence of hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) presentations for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Subjects and Methods: A randomized controlled trial was used to compare the outcomes for participants receiving the telehealth equipment and monitoring with those for participants in an information-only control group, over a period of 6 months. Participants receiving the telehealth intervention were taught to measure and record their vital signs (blood pressure, weight, temperature, pulse, and oxygen saturation levels) on a daily basis. These were then transmitted automatically via telephone to a secure Web site where they were monitored each day by the telehealth nurse.

Results: The telehealth group had fewer ED presentations and hospital admissions and a reduced length of stay in comparison with the control group. These results were not statistically significant. However, the reduction in health service use was large enough to result in significant cost savings, with the annual cost savings of the telehealth group compared with the control group being $2,931 per person.

Conclusions: Telehealth monitoring of patient vital signs reduced health service utilization for individuals with COPD and resulted in significant cost savings. In terms of individual health benefits, improvements in participants' self-management behaviors and control over their condition was evident.

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