A very important positive shift in attitude to digital health

Hat tip to Mike Clark for alerting this editor to a particularly important run of recent papers on digital health that suggests that we have at last turned the corner from the seemingly endless enquiries of the “does it work?” type, to asking instead “how can it be made best to work?”.

We’ll start with perhaps one of the most unequivocal papers on the benefits of telehealth this editor can remember – a review by a team from the Mayo Clinic of controlled trials between 1990 and 2014 of digital health for managing cardiovascular disease. It is entitled “Digital Health Interventions for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis”. The results found were that “digital health interventions significantly reduced CVD outcomes”. It makes great reading. Another smaller academic study of an NHS Croydon implementation for both CHF & COPD also showed positive results, and strong patient appeal specifically, too.

Another paper, just published by Stephen Agboola of Partners Healthcare, and colleagues from Boston US, entitled “Heart Failure Remote Monitoring: Evidence From the Retrospective Evaluation of a Real-World Remote Monitoring Program”,  further supports the benefits of telehealth for managing CHF. However, benefits disappeared after the 120-day telehealth usage ended, as discussed by Jonah Comstock of mobihealthnews – important lessons to be learned there, relating perhaps to what follows in this post.

(Though not an academic study, it’s worth perhaps also recording en passant a Health Recovery Solutions (HRS) claim that they reduced the 30 day readmission rate for 130 congestive heart failure patients by 53%, from 8.0% to 3.8%, over a period from July 2014 to February 2015.)

Moving on then to a paper by Trisha Greenhalgh and colleagues entitled “What is quality in assisted living technology? The ARCHIE framework for effective telehealth and telecare services”. This paper concludes that (more…)