Background: Increased frequency of prothrombin time testing, facilitated by patient self-testing (PST) of the International Normalized Ratio (INR) can improve the clinical outcomes of oral anticoagulation therapy (OAT). However, oversight of this type of management is often difficult and time-consuming for healthcare professionals. This study reports the first randomized controlled trial of an automated direct-to-patient expert system, enabling remote and effective management of patients on OAT.
Methods: A prospective, randomized controlled cross-over study was performed to test the hypothesis that supervised PST using an internet-based, direct-to-patient expert system could provide improved anticoagulation control as compared with that provided by an anticoagulation management service (AMS). During the 6 months of supervised PST, patients measured their INR at home using a portable meter and entered this result, along with other information, onto the internet web page. Patients received instant feedback from the system as to what dose to take and when the next test was due. During the routine care arm, patients attended the AMS at least every 4-6 weeks and were dosed by the anticoagulation pharmacist or physician. The primary outcome variable was the difference in the time in therapeutic range (TTR) between both arms.
Results: One hundred and sixty-two patients were enrolled (male 61.6%, mean age 58.7 years), and 132 patients (81.5%) completed both arms. TTR was significantly higher during PST management than during AMS management (median TTR 74% vs 58.6%; z=5.67, P < 0.001).
Conclusions: The use of an internet-based, direct-to-patient expert system for the management of PST improves the control of OAT as compared with AMS management.