Background: Noninvasive telemonitoring (TM) can be used in heart failure (HF) patients to perform early detection of decompensation at home, prevent unnecessary health care utilization, and decrease health care costs. However, the evidence is not sufficient to be part of HF guidelines for follow-up care, and we have no knowledge of how TM is used in the Nordic Baltic region.
Objective: The aim of this study was to describe health care professionals' (HCPs) perception of and presumed experience with noninvasive TM in daily HF patient care, perspectives of the relevance of and reasons for applying noninvasive TM, and barriers to the use of noninvasive TM.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was performed between September and December 2016 in Norway and Lithuania with physicians and nurses treating HF patients at either a hospital ward or an outpatient clinic. A total of 784 questionnaires were sent nationwide by postal mail to 107 hospitals. The questionnaire consisted of 43 items with close- and open-ended questions. In Norway, the response rate was 68.7% (226/329), with 57 of 60 hospitals participating, whereas the response rate was 68.1% (310/455) in Lithuania, with 41 of 47 hospitals participating. Responses to the closed questions were analyzed using descriptive statistics, and the open-ended questions were analyzed using summative content analysis.
Results: This study showed that noninvasive TM is not part of the current daily clinical practice in Norway or Lithuania. A minority of HCPs responded to be familiar with noninvasive TM in HF care in Norway (48/226, 21.2%) and Lithuania (64/310, 20.6%). Approximately half of the HCPs in both countries perceived noninvasive TM to be relevant in follow-up of HF patients in Norway (131/226, 58.0%) and Lithuania (172/310, 55.5%). For physicians in both countries and nurses in Norway, the 3 most mentioned reasons for introducing noninvasive TM were to improve self-care, to reduce hospitalizations, and to provide high-quality care, whereas the Lithuanian nurses described ability to treat more patients and to reduce their workload as reasons for introducing noninvasive TM. The main barriers to implement noninvasive TM were lack of funding from health care authorities or the Territorial Patient Fund. Moreover, HCPs perceive that HF patients themselves could represent barriers because of their physical or mental condition in addition to a lack of internet access.
Conclusions: HCPs in Norway and Lithuania are currently nonusers of TM in daily HF care. However, they perceive a future with TM to improve the quality of care for HF patients. Financial barriers and HF patients' condition may have an impact on the use of TM, whereas sufficient funding from health care authorities and improved knowledge may encourage the more widespread use of TM in the Nordic Baltic region and beyond.
Keywords: heart failure; nurses; perception; physicians; self-care; telemedicine.
©Ina Thon Aamodt, Edita Lycholip, Jelena Celutkiene, Anna Strömberg, Dan Atar, Ragnhild Sørum Falk, Thomas von Lueder, Ragnhild Hellesø, Tiny Jaarsma, Irene Lie. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 06.02.2019.