Remote monitoring of patients with chronic heart failure has a positive impact on clinical outcomes, according to a study published this week.

A review published in the BMJ  found that structured telephone support or telemonitoring by a health professional reduced admissions to hospital for chronic heart failure and deaths from all causes by nearly one fifth and improved health related quality of life.

The researchers from Australia and Canada looked at 114 randomised controlled trails of remote monitoring of patients with chronic heart failure managed in the community.

The review found that few of the studies had looked at the economic costs and benefits of remote monitoring but four trials did examine the costs of structured telephone support and of those three reported reduced cost and one no effect.

The researchers attributed the reduction in hospital admissions to early intervention by telemonitoring nurses at the first sign of clinical deterioration. The study found there was no effect on the level of admission to hospital for all causes and the researchers said this may require further exploration. They said telemonitoring might lead to shorter hospital stays for all causes rather than fewer admissions as a result of early detection of problems and the support available on discharge.

The researchers said remote monitoring should not be seen as a treatment but a different way of organising effective care alongside specialist care and multidisciplinary heart failure clinics.

They added: “Remote monitoring may be of particular benefit to patients who have difficulty accessing specialised care because of geography, transport, or infirmity.”