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Keywords:

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • informatics;
  • telemedicine;
  • telemonitoring

Abstract

Rationale, aims and objectives  The evidence to support the effectiveness of home telemonitoring interventions for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is limited, yet there are many efforts made to implement these technologies across health care services.

Methods  A comprehensive search strategy was designed and implemented across 9 electronic databases and 11 European, Australasian and North American telemedicine websites. Included studies had to examine the effectiveness of telemonitoring interventions, clearly defined for the study purposes, for adult patients with COPD. Two researchers independently screened each study prior to inclusion.

Results  Two randomized trials and four other evaluations of telemonitoring were included. The studies are typically underpowered, had heterogeneous patient populations and had a lack of detailed intervention descriptions and of the care processes that accompanied telemonitoring. In addition, there were diverse outcome measures and no economic evaluations. The telemonitoring interventions in each study differed widely. Some had an educational element that could itself account for the differences between groups.

Conclusions  Despite these caveats, the study reports are themselves positive about their results. However, given the risk of bias in the design and scale of the evaluations we conclude that the benefit of telemonitoring for COPD is not yet proven and that further work is required before wide-scale implementation be supported.