e-Health: Monitoring heart failure remotely can reduce costs

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Although heart failure (HF) telemonitoring will require an initial financial investment, it will substantially reduce costs in the long term, particularly by reducing rehospitalization and travel costs, according to an analysis in the September issue of Telemedicine and e-Health.

The Scopus and PubMed databases were searched independently by two reviewers for journal articles that reported on an economic analysis (i.e., calculated monetary amounts or percentage change in costs) of a study using a HF telemonitoring system. Eleven articles met the inclusion criteria, describing 10 different HF telemonitoring systems, nine of which analyzed the direct costs to the healthcare system.

Emily Seto, MSc, from the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation at the University Health Network in Toronto, systematically reviewed 10 different telemonitoring systems for heart failure to assess the value of such systems in reducing hospital costs.

All the studies found cost reductions from telemonitoring compared to usual care, which ranged between 1.6 percent and 68.3 percent, according to Seto. Cost reductions were mainly attributed to reduced hospitalization expenditures.

Only one study discussed the impact of HF telemonitoring on direct patient costs, which found a 3.5 percent lower travel cost for patients using telemonitoring compared to those in the usual care group.

One study found that indirect costs described the willingness to pay for telemedicine by patients with HF (55 percent of the patients with HF were willing to pay $20 to access telemedicine, and 19 percent were willing to pay $40), according to Seto.

Seto wrote that the direct and indirect costs of HF have been estimated to be $33.2 billion annually in the U.S., and suggested that telemonitoring could reduce some of these costs.