Home telemonitoring or structured telephone support programmes after recent discharge in patients with heart failure: systematic review and economic evaluation

Authors: Pandor A, Thokala P, Gomersall T, Baalbaki H, Stevens J, Wang J, Wong R, Brennan A, Fitzgerald P

Journal: Health Technology Assessment Volume: 17 Issue: 32

Publication date: August 2013

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3310/hta17320


Pandor A, Thokala P, Gomersall T, Baalbaki H, Stevens J, Wang J, et al.Home telemonitoring or structured telephone support programmes after recent discharge in patients with heart failure: systematic review and economic evaluation. Health Technol Assess 2013;17(32)

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Remote monitoring (RM) strategies have the potential to deliver specialised care and management to patients with heart failure (HF).


To determine the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of home telemonitoring (TM) or structured telephone support (STS) strategies compared with usual care for adult patients who have been recently discharged (within 28 days) from acute care after a recent exacerbation of HF.

Data sources

Fourteen electronic databases (including MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO and The Cochrane Library) and research registers were searched to January 2012, supplemented by hand-searching relevant articles and contact with experts. The review included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or observational cohort studies with a contemporaneous control group that included the following RM interventions: (1) TM (including cardiovascular implanted monitoring devices) with medical support provided during office hours or 24/7; (2) STS programmes delivered by human-to-human contact (HH) or human-to-machine interface (HM).

Review methods

A systematic review and network meta-analysis (where appropriate) of the clinical evidence was carried out using standard methods. A Markov model was developed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of different RM packages compared with usual care for recently discharged HF patients. TM 24/7 or using cardiovascular monitoring devices was not considered in the economic model because of the lack of data and/or unsuitability for the UK setting. Given the heterogeneity in the components of usual care and RM interventions, the cost-effectiveness analysis was performed using a set of costing scenarios designed to reflect the different configurations of usual care and RM in the UK.


The literature searches identified 3060 citations. Six RCTs met the inclusion criteria and were added to the 15 trials identified from the previous systematic reviews giving a total of 21 RCTs included in the systematic review. No trials of cardiovascular implanted monitoring devices or observational studies met the inclusion criteria. The methodological quality of the studies varied widely and reporting was generally poor. Compared with usual care, RM was beneficial in reducing all-cause mortality for STS HH [hazard ratio (HR) 0.77, 95% credible interval (CrI) 0.55 to 1.08], TM during office hours (HR 0.76, 95% CrI 0.49 to 1.18) and TM 24/7 (HR 0.49, 95% CrI 0.20 to 1.18); however, these results were statistically inconclusive. The results for TM 24/7 should be treated with caution because of the poor methodological quality of the only included study in this network. No favourable effect on mortality was observed with STS HM. Similar reductions were observed in all-cause hospitalisations for TM interventions, whereas STS interventions had no major effect. A sensitivity analysis, in which a study was excluded because it provided better-than-usual support to the control group, showed larger beneficial effects for most outcomes, particularly for TM during office hours. In the cost-effectiveness analyses, TM during office hours was the most cost-effective strategy with an estimated incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of £11,873 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) compared with usual care, whereas STS HH had an ICER of £228,035 per QALY compared with TM during office hours. STS HM was dominated by usual care. Similar results were observed in scenario analyses performed using higher costs of usual care, higher costs of STS HH and lower costs of TM during office hours.


The RM interventions included in the review were heterogeneous in terms of monitored parameters and HF selection criteria and lacked detail in the components of the RM care packages and usual care (e.g. communication protocols, routine staff visits and resources used). As a result, the economic model developed scenarios for different RM classifications and their costs were estimated using bottom-up costing methods. Although the users can decide which of these scenarios is most representative of their setting, uncertainties still remain about the assumptions made in the estimation of these costs. In addition, the model assumed that the effectiveness of the interventions was constant over time, irrespective of the duration of deployment, and that the intervention was equally effective in different age/severity groups.


Despite wide variation in usual care and RM strategies, cost-effectiveness analyses suggest that TM during office hours was an optimal strategy (in most costing scenarios). However, clarity was lacking among descriptions of the components of RM packages and usual care and there was a lack of robust estimation of costs. Further research is needed in these areas.

Study registration

PROSPERO registration no. CRD42011001368.


The National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment programme.

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