Challenges of Telemonitoring Programs for Complex Chronic Conditions: Randomized Controlled Trial with an Embedded Qualitative Study

Ware P., Shah A., Ross H. J., Logan A. G., Segal P., Cafazzo J. A., ...More

Journal of Medical Internet Research, vol.24, no.1, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 24 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.2196/31754
  • Journal Name: Journal of Medical Internet Research
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, ASSIA, Applied Science & Technology Source, Biotechnology Research Abstracts, CINAHL, Communication & Mass Media Index, Computer & Applied Sciences, EMBASE, Information Science and Technology Abstracts, Library and Information Science Abstracts, Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (LISTA), MEDLINE, Psycinfo, Social services abstracts, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: telemonitoring, telemedicine, heart failure, diabetes, hypertension, tertiary health care, multiple chronic conditions, mobile phone
  • TED University Affiliated: No


©Patrick Ware, Amika Shah, Heather Joan Ross, Alexander Gordon Logan, Phillip Segal, Joseph Antony Cafazzo, Katarzyna Szacun-Shimizu, Myles Resnick, Tessy Vattaparambil, Emily Seto.Background: Despite the growing prevalence of people with complex conditions and evidence of the positive impact of telemonitoring for single conditions, little research exists on telemonitoring for this population. Objective: This randomized controlled trial and embedded qualitative study aims to evaluate the impact on and experiences of patients and health care providers (HCPs) using a telemonitoring system with decision support to manage patients with complex conditions, including those with multiple chronic conditions, compared with the standard of care. Methods: A pragmatic, unblinded, 6-month randomized controlled trial sought to recruit 146 patients with ≥1 diagnosis of heart failure (HF), uncontrolled hypertension (HT), and insulin-requiring diabetes mellitus (DM) from outpatient specialty settings in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Participants were randomized into the control and telemonitoring groups, with the latter being instructed to take readings relevant to their conditions. The telemonitoring system contained an algorithm that generated decision support in the form of actionable self-care directives to patients and alerts to HCPs. The primary outcome was health status (36-Item Short Form Health Survey questionnaire). Secondary outcomes included anxiety and depression, self-efficacy in chronic disease management, and self-reported health service use. HF-related quality of life and self-care measures were also collected from patients followed for HF. Within- and between-group change scores were analyzed for statistical significance (P<.05). A convenience sample of HCPs and patients in the intervention group was interviewed about their experiences. Results: A total of 96 patients were recruited and randomized. Recruitment was terminated early because of implementation challenges and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. No significant within- and between-group differences were found for the main primary and secondary outcomes. However, a within-group analysis of patients with HF found improvements in self-care maintenance (P=.04) and physical quality of life (P=.046). Opinions expressed by the 5 HCPs and 13 patients who were interviewed differed based on the monitored conditions. Although patients with HF reported benefitting from actionable self-care guidance and meaningful interactions with their HCPs, patient and HCP users of the DM and HT modules did not think telemonitoring improved the clinical management of those conditions to the same degree. These differing experiences were largely attributed to the siloed nature of specialty care and the design of the decision support, whereby fluctuations in the status of HT and DM typically required less urgent interventions compared with patients with HF. Conclusions: We recommend that future research conceive telemonitoring as a program and that self-management and clinical decision support are necessary but not sufficient components of such programs for patients with complex conditions and lower acuity. We conclude that telemonitoring for patients with complex conditions or within multidisciplinary care settings may be best operationalized through nurse-led models of care.