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Keywords:

  • heart failure;
  • primary care;
  • qualitative research;
  • telehealth

Aims and objectives

To understand the views of patients and professionals on the acceptability and perceived usefulness of telemonitoring in the management of chronic heart failure in the context of day-to-day care provision.

Background

There is an increasing interest in the potential for telemonitoring to support the home-based management of patients with chronic heart failure. However, little is known about the views of patients and professionals on the use of telemonitoring in this context. A chronic heart failure telemonitoring service was set-up by NHS Lothian, Scotland, to evaluate the intervention.

Design

A qualitative design was adopted to explore the views of patients and professionals participating in the service.

Methods

Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 18 patients (61% male, mean age 75 years) and five professionals participating at different time points in this new service. Interviews were audio recorded, coded and thematically analysed using the Framework approach.

Results

Five main themes were identified: ‘information, support and reassurance’; ‘compliance and dependence’; ‘changes and challenges’; ‘determining the criteria for patient applicability to telemonitoring’; and ‘continuity of care’.

Conclusion

Patients and professionals considered telemonitoring useful in the management of chronic heart failure, although with some caveats. Telemonitoring was popular with patients because they felt reassurance arising from what was perceived as continuous practitioner surveillance. Professionals expressed concern regarding perceived patient dependence on practitioner support. Increased workload was also a concern. Both groups acknowledged the need for improved technology and changes to service provision in order to better meet the intended objectives of the service.

Relevance to clinical practice

Although popular with patients, professionals emphasised the importance of case selection and adequate training and support, both for patients and themselves, in order to maximise the expected benefits of the service, particularly with regard to enabling self-management.