Patient engagement with a mobile web-based telemonitoring system for heart failure self-management: a pilot study

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2015 Apr 1;3(2):e33. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.3789.


Background: Intensive remote monitoring programs for congestive heart failure have been successful in reducing costly readmissions, but may not be appropriate for all patients. There is an opportunity to leverage the increasing accessibility of mobile technologies and consumer-facing digital devices to empower patients in monitoring their own health outside of the hospital setting. The iGetBetter system, a secure Web- and telephone-based heart failure remote monitoring program, which leverages mobile technology and portable digital devices, offers a creative solution at lower cost.

Objective: The objective of this pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility of using the iGetBetter system for disease self-management in patients with heart failure.

Methods: This was a single-arm prospective study in which 21 ambulatory, adult heart failure patients used the intervention for heart failure self-management over a 90-day study period. Patients were instructed to take their weight, blood pressure, and heart rate measurements each morning using a WS-30 bluetooth weight scale, a self-inflating blood pressure cuff (Withings LLC, Issy les Moulineaux, France), and an iPad Mini tablet computer (Apple Inc, Cupertino, CA, USA) equipped with cellular Internet connectivity to view their measurements on the Internet. Outcomes assessed included usability and satisfaction, engagement with the intervention, hospital resource utilization, and heart failure-related quality of life. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize data, and matched controls identified from the electronic medical record were used as comparison for evaluating hospitalizations.

Results: There were 20 participants (mean age 53 years) that completed the study. Almost all participants (19/20, 95%) reported feeling more connected to their health care team and more confident in performing care plan activities, and 18/20 (90%) felt better prepared to start discussions about their health with their doctor. Although heart failure-related quality of life improved from baseline, it was not statistically significant (P=.55). Over half of the participants had greater than 80% (72/90 days) weekly and overall engagement with the program, and 15% (3/20) used the interactive voice response telephone system exclusively for managing their care plan. Hospital utilization did not differ in the intervention group compared to the control group (planned hospitalizations P=.23, and unplanned hospitalizations P=.99). Intervention participants recorded shorter average length of hospital stay, but no significant differences were observed between intervention and control groups (P=.30).

Conclusions: This pilot study demonstrated the feasibility of a low-intensive remote monitoring program leveraging commonly used mobile and portable consumer devices in augmenting care for a fairly young population of ambulatory patients with heart failure. Further prospective studies with a larger sample size and within more diverse patient populations is necessary to determine the effect of mobile-based remote monitoring programs such as the iGetBetter system on clinical outcomes in heart failure.

Keywords: Web portal; disease self-management; heart failure; interactive voice response system; mobile health; patient engagement; quality of life; remote monitoring; telemonitoring.