OBJECTIVES: To provide a systematic review of the effectiveness of home telemonitoring to reduce healthcare utilisation and improve health-related outcomes of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
METHODS: An electronic literature search in Medline, Embase, B-on and Web of Science was conducted from June to August 2012 and updated until July 2013, using the following keywords: [tele(-)monitoring or tele(-)health or tele(-)homecare or tele(-)care or tele-home health or home monitoring] and [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD]. Randomised and non-randomised controlled trials evaluating home telemonitoring interventions in COPD were included. A meta-analysis using risk ratio (RR) and standardised mean difference (SMD) was conducted for healthcare utilisation (hospitalisations, length of stay, emergency department visits) and associated costs, and health-related outcomes [mortality, exacerbations and health-related quality of life (HRQOL)].
RESULTS: Nine articles were included. Significant differences were found for hospitalisation rates (RR = 0.72; 95% CI = 0.53-0.98; p = 0.034); however, no differences in the other healthcare utilisation outcomes were observed. There was a trend to reduced healthcare costs in the telemonitoring group. In two studies, this intervention was associated with a reduced number of exacerbations (p < 0.05) and a significant increase in HRQOL (SMD = -0.53; 95% CI = -0.97- -0.09; p = 0.019).
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Home telemonitoring appears to have a positive effect in reducing respiratory exacerbations and hospitalisations and improving quality of life. However, the evidence of its benefits is still limited and further research is needed to assess the effectiveness of home telemonitoring in COPD management, as there are still few studies in this area.
While it is useful to know that there were nine studies of reasonably high quality looking at the outcome of interest, the results are such that it is unlikely that any healthcare organization would invest in home telemonitoring technology based on this information.
It is a methodological problem that two non-randomised trials were included in the analysis.
Limited data so only of peripheral interest and relevance to clinical practice.