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J Med Internet Res. 2015 Mar 12;17(3):e63. doi: 10.2196/jmir.4174.

Effects of home telemonitoring interventions on patients with chronic heart failure: an overview of systematic reviews.

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College of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, United States.



Growing interest on the effects of home telemonitoring on patients with chronic heart failure (HF) has led to a rise in the number of systematic reviews addressing the same or very similar research questions with a concomitant increase in discordant findings. Differences in the scope, methods of analysis, and methodological quality of systematic reviews can cause great confusion and make it difficult for policy makers and clinicians to access and interpret the available evidence and for researchers to know where knowledge gaps in the extant literature exist.


This overview aims to collect, appraise, and synthesize existing evidence from multiple systematic reviews on the effectiveness of home telemonitoring interventions for patients with chronic heart failure (HF) to inform policy makers, practitioners, and researchers.


A comprehensive literature search was performed on MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library to identify all relevant, peer-reviewed systematic reviews published between January 1996 and December 2013. Reviews were searched and screened using explicit keywords and inclusion criteria. Standardized forms were used to extract data and the methodological quality of included reviews was appraised using the AMSTAR (assessing methodological quality of systematic reviews) instrument. Summary of findings tables were constructed for all primary outcomes of interest, and quality of evidence was graded by outcome using the GRADE (Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation) system. Post-hoc analysis and subgroup meta-analyses were conducted to gain further insights into the various types of home telemonitoring technologies included in the systematic reviews and the impact of these technologies on clinical outcomes.


A total of 15 reviews published between 2003 and 2013 were selected for meta-level synthesis. Evidence from high-quality reviews with meta-analysis indicated that taken collectively, home telemonitoring interventions reduce the relative risk of all-cause mortality (0.60 to 0.85) and heart failure-related hospitalizations (0.64 to 0.86) compared with usual care. Absolute risk reductions ranged from 1.4%-6.5% and 3.7%-8.2%, respectively. Improvements in HF-related hospitalizations appeared to be more pronounced in patients with stable HF: hazard ratio (HR) 0.70 (95% credible interval [Crl] 0.34-1.5]). Risk reductions in mortality and all-cause hospitalizations appeared to be greater in patients who had been recently discharged (≤28 days) from an acute care setting after a recent HF exacerbation: HR 0.62 (95% CrI 0.42-0.89) and HR 0.67 (95% CrI 0.42-0.97), respectively. However, quality of evidence for these outcomes ranged from moderate to low suggesting that further research is very likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the observed estimates of effect and may change these estimates. The post-hoc analysis identified five main types of non-invasive telemonitoring technologies included in the systematic reviews: (1) video-consultation, with or without transmission of vital signs, (2) mobile telemonitoring, (3) automated device-based telemonitoring, (4) interactive voice response, and (5) Web-based telemonitoring. Of these, only automated device-based telemonitoring and mobile telemonitoring were effective in reducing the risk of all-cause mortality and HF-related hospitalizations. More research data are required for interactive voice response systems, video-consultation, and Web-based telemonitoring to provide robust conclusions about their effectiveness.


Future research should focus on understanding the process by which home telemonitoring works in terms of improving outcomes, identify optimal strategies and the duration of follow-up for which it confers benefits, and further investigate whether there is differential effectiveness between chronic HF patient groups and types of home telemonitoring technologies.


ambulatory monitoring; chronic diseases; continuity of patient care; heart failure; home care services; home telemonitoring; meta-analysis; physiologic monitoring; remote consultation; remote monitoring; review; systematic review; telehealth; telemedicine; umbrella review

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