Clinical and economic impact of remote monitoring on the follow-up of patients with implantable electronic cardiovascular devices: an observational study

Telemed J E Health. 2013 Feb;19(2):71-80. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2012.0064. Epub 2013 Jan 21.


Traditional follow-up of patients with cardiovascular devices is still an activity that, in addition to serving an increasing population, requires a considerable amount of time and specialized human and technical resources. Our aim was to evaluate the applicability of the CareLink(®) (Medtronic, Minneapolis, MN) remote monitoring system as a complementary option to the follow-up of patients with implanted devices, between in-office visits. Evaluated outcomes included both clinical (event detection and time to diagnosis) and nonclinical (patient's satisfaction and economic costs) aspects. An observational, longitudinal, prospective study was conducted with patients from a Portuguese central hospital sampled by convenience during 1 week (43 patients). Data were collected in four moments: two in-office visits and two remote evaluations, reproducing 1 year of clinical follow-up. Data sources included health records, implant reports, initial demographic data collection, follow-up printouts, and a questionnaire. After selection criteria were verified, 15 patients (11 men [73%]) were included, 63.4±10.8 years old, representing 14.0±6.3 implant months. Clinically, 15 events were detected (9 by remote monitoring and 6 by patient-initiated activation), of which only 9 were symptomatic. We verified that remote monitoring could detect both symptomatic and asymptomatic events, whereas patient-initiated activation only detected symptomatic ones (p=0.028). Moreover, the mean diagnosis anticipation in patients with events was approximately 58 days (p<0.001). In nonclinical terms, we observed high or very high satisfaction (67% and 33%, respectively) with using remote monitoring technology, but still 8 patients (53%) stated they preferred in-office visits. Finally, the introduction of remote monitoring technology has the ability to reduce total follow-up costs for patients by 25%. We conclude that the use of this system constitutes a viable complementary option to the follow-up of patients with implantable devices, between in-office visits.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / therapy*
  • Defibrillators, Implantable* / economics
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pacemaker, Artificial* / economics
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Portugal
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telemetry / economics
  • Telemetry / instrumentation*