Telehealth by an Interprofessional Team in Patients With CKD: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Am J Kidney Dis. 2016 Jul;68(1):41-9. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2016.01.018. Epub 2016 Mar 2.


Background: Telehealth and interprofessional case management are newer strategies of care within chronic disease management. We investigated whether an interprofessional team using telehealth was a feasible care delivery strategy and whether this strategy could affect health outcomes in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Study design: Randomized clinical trial.

Setting & participants: Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System (VAHCS), St. Cloud VAHCS, and affiliated clinics March 2012 to November 2013 in patients with CKD (estimated glomerular filtration rate < 60mL/min/1.73m(2)).

Interventions: Patients were randomly assigned to receive an intervention (n=451) consisting of care by an interprofessional team (nephrologist, nurse practitioner, nurses, clinical pharmacy specialist, psychologist, social worker, and dietician) using a telehealth device (touch screen computer with peripherals) or to usual care (n=150).

Outcomes: The primary end point was a composite of death, hospitalization, emergency department visits, or admission to skilled nursing facilities, compared to usual care.

Results: Baseline characteristics of the overall study group: mean age, 75.1±8.1 (SD) years; men, 98.5%; white, 97.3%; and mean estimated glomerular filtration rate, 37±9mL/min/1.73m(2). Telehealth and interprofessional care were successfully implemented with meaningful engagement with the care system. One year after randomization, 208 (46.2%) patients in the intervention group versus 70 (46.7%) in the usual-care group had the primary composite outcome (HR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.75-1.29; P=0.9). There was no difference between groups for any component of the primary outcome: all-cause mortality (HR, 1.46; 95% CI, 0.42-5.11), hospitalization (HR, 1.15; 95% CI, 0.80-1.63), emergency department visits (HR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.68-1.24), or nursing home admission (HR, 3.07; 95% CI, 0.71-13.24).

Limitations: Older population, mostly men, potentially underpowered/wide CIs.

Conclusions: Telehealth by an interprofessional team is a feasible care delivery strategy in patients with CKD. There was no statistically significant evidence of superiority of this intervention on health outcomes compared to usual care.

Keywords: Telemedicine; case management; chronic disease management; chronic kidney disease (CKD); hospitalization; hypertension; interprofessional relations; mortality; patient education; randomized controlled trial; remote monitoring; video monitoring; virtual visit.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / therapy*
  • Telemedicine*
  • Treatment Outcome