An encouraging Australian RCT combining self-care and telemonitoring

A paper just published in the Journal of Telemedicine & eHealth (Volume: 19 Issue 9) entitled “Telehealth Remote Monitoring for Community-Dwelling Older Adults with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease” makes refreshing reading for those of us who still believe that a well-designed implementation of telehealth brings immense health benefit to those with chronic long-term conditions.

The authors, Kristen De San Miguel, Joanna Smith, and Gill Lewin, all from Western Australia describe a small RCT using Docobo kit that involved both self-care and nurse-review to help manage COPD. Unfortunately in view of the relatively small number of triallists (initially 80), the short time period (six months), and the time of year (summer) some of the findings, such as a reduction in hospitalisations (the telehealth group’s hospital utilization was virtually half that of the control group) cannot be considered statistically significant.  Nevertheless there were sufficient significant findings to enable then to conclude:

“This research has shown that remote monitoring of patient vital signs using telehealth equipment resulted in a smaller number of health service contacts for individuals with COPD and resulted in significant cost savings. In terms of individual health benefits, improvements in participants’ self-management and control over their condition were evident…importantly older people were receptive to using this type of technology and enjoyed using it as a tool in managing their COPD.”

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