A new report by scientists at the University of Exeter’s Health Service Delivery Research (HSDR) Evidence Synthesis Centre with support from PenARC, could inform the use of remote monitoring technologies to support people with long-term physical health conditions.
The NIHR funded the research, which produced an evidence and gap map. The map summarises reviews of the evidence on the use of remote monitoring technologies for adults with long-term physical health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.
Remote monitoring – when an aspect of a patient’s health, such as blood pressure, is measured at home, and this information is passed to a healthcare professional – could benefit patients and healthcare staff. It can detect early changes in a patient’s condition, helping steps to be taken to prevent this worsening, as well as allowing patients to learn about their health condition. Remote monitoring can also mean healthcare staff are able to use their time more effectively as they need to travel less.
This research aimed to identify areas where there is lots of evidence for remote monitoring as well as gaps where further research is needed. By producing an interactive evidence and gap map, the researchers found that:
- Evidence is focused on remote monitoring of people with a few specific conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. There is a lack of research on less common conditions e.g. epilepsy.
- Data from patients were collected mainly using common devices (e.g. heart rate monitors) and passed to healthcare providers using apps, websites and telephone calls. The data collected tended to be on aspects of health related to the most common conditions in the map (heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes) e.g. blood pressure and heart rate.
- There are reviews on the effectiveness of remote monitoring for physical and mental health, and health service use. Few reviews look at the views of carers and healthcare professionals on how acceptable they find remote monitoring and how best to implement it.
Dr Sian de Bell, co-lead for the study, said:
“There is a lot of variation in remote monitoring interventions, in terms of the technologies used and aspects of the design, for example how often patients and healthcare professionals are in contact. This map provides evidence that could help healthcare practitioners who are designing and delivering remote monitoring for health conditions such as heart or lung disease.
“However, it also shows that there are areas where more research is needed, such as for rarer health conditions where remote monitoring could be beneficial to people’s quality of life.”
The report ‘Remote monitoring for long-term physical health conditions: an evidence and gap map’ is published in the Health and Social Care Delivery Research journal.