Using Telehealth for CHF Management

Telehealth solutions present numerous benefits to patients struggling with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) management. As technology develops, an increasing number of clinicians will utilize telehealth solutions to improve patient outcomes and reduce hospital admissions. Will you be one of them?

Studies from the last 5 years consistently show that remote patient monitoring (RPM) interventions can reduce length of hospital stay and decrease mortality related to heart failure.

Don’t let your patients get left behind! Learn more about this technology so you can start providing critical CHF management tools to your patients.

CHF Management Best Practices

Heart failure is a chronic disorder that leaves patients prone to exacerbations and hospital readmissions. Clinicians are constantly challenged to find ways to reduce hospitalizations for worsening heart failure, which relies on effective patient management outside of the hospital setting.

According to the American Heart Association, heart failure patients should follow these CHF management best practices:

  • Follow their health care professional’s advice
  • Quit smoking (if applicable)
  • Take their medications exactly as prescribed
  • Weight themselves daily
  • Track daily fluid intake
  • Monitor blood pressure daily
  • Lose or maintain weight based on doctor’s recommendations
  • Avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine
  • Follow a heart-healthy diet
  • Reduce sodium intake
  • Be physically active
  • Get adequate rest

This is a long list and so even the strictest of patients can miss one or two items.

How Telehealth Supports CHF Management: A Study

2018 randomized controlled trial aimed to evaluate the efficacy of remote patient management on mortality and morbidity in the heart failure patient population. The study compared patients who received telehealth plus usual care to patients who received only usual care.

Those in the CHF remote patient monitoring group used a tablet connected to electrocardiogram, blood pressure monitoring device, and weight scales that electronically transmitted the following data to their providers:

  • Body weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Analysis of heart rhythm
  • Peripheral capillary oxygen saturation (Sp02)
  • Self-rated health status change (on a scale from 1 to 5)

Patients in the telehealth group also received CHF patient education and direct communication between the telemedical center and each patient’s cardiologist. Additionally, a certified nurse conducted telephone interviews with patients on a monthly basis to review symptoms and help with any technical issues.

Patients in the usual care group were followed up according to the current protocol for the management of patients with heart failure. Both groups of patients were seen by a cardiologist at time of screening, for a baseline visit, and for a final visit. Additionally, patients were seen by their general practitioner (GP) or local cardiologist at 3, 5, and 9 months follow up. This allowed the GPs or cardiologist to adjust treatments as necessary throughout the study period.

Did these researchers find that RPM had any effect on the length of hospital stay?

The Results: Reduced Hospital Admissions

Yes they did!

The authors found that the percentage of days lost due to cardiovascular hospital admissions or all-cause death was significantly reduced in patients in the CHF remote patient monitoring group compared to the usual care group.

Specifically, the researchers found the following results related to days lost:

  • The percentage of days lost due to unplanned cardiovascular hospital admissions and all cause death was 4.88% in the remote patient management group and 6.64% in the usual care group.
  • Patients in the remote patient management group lost a mean of 17.8 days per year, while patients in the usual care group lost 24.2 days per year.
  • When looking at days lost due to worsening heart failure specifically, patients in the remote patient management group lost a mean of 3.5 days per year, while patients in the usual care group lost a mean of 5.6 days per year.

While cardiovascular mortality did not show a statistical difference between groups, the all cause death rate was significantly different between the remote patient management group and the usual care group:

  • The all cause death rate was 7.9% per 100 person years of follow-up in the remote patient management group and 11.34% per 100 person years of follow-up in the usual care group.

Another interesting result in the study pertained to the geographical location of the patients. The authors noted that the results of this study did not differ among patients in rural or metropolitan areas. This was a positive finding that demonstrates the potential of CHF telehealth to equalize healthcare access, regardless of where a patient resides.

More Proof of the Effectiveness of Telehealth

This study from 2018 hasn’t been the only one of its kind. Over the last few years, researchers have grown increasingly interested in studying the effects of telehealth on CHF management. The “virtual visit” is becoming a critical tool for providers to help patients properly execute CHF management outside of the hospital setting.

Remote patient monitoring for patients with CHF can facilitate early detection of signs and symptoms of cardiac decompensation, allowing you to quickly respond to your patients’ needs and subsequently reduce the likelihood of hospitalization. It also reduces the burden that CHF patients typically put on hospital systems by reducing readmissions.

Not only do studies prove that RPM works for CHF management, but forward-thinking healthcare systems prove it on a daily basis. MaineGeneral, a comprehensive non-profit system located in Augusta, Maine, achieved a 0% CMS-CHF readmission rate using remote patient monitoring.

The Future of CHF Management

Telehealth is an effective CHF management solution because it enables you to adjust patient care as needed.

The studies referenced above prove that. When physiological data is transmitted to clinicians on a daily basis, care providers are able to individualize care and respond quickly to patients’ changing medical needs, even while the patients are at home. This continuity of care is not possible without remote patient monitoring.

It’s time to start improving your patients’ care with CHF telehealth solutions. Telehealth solutions are a valuable, even necessary, component to any CHF management care plan. As the demand for value-based care and improved patient outcomes grows, more and more healthcare providers are adopting telehealth solutions and partnering with experienced providers, like Health Recovery Solutions (HRS).

Elite Home Health & Hospice is offering telehealth monitoring through Health Recovery Solutions for patients enrolled in our home health program. If you have questions or feel you may benefit from this program, please email us at info@elitehhh.com.