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Schofield RS, Kline SE, Schmalfuss CM, Carver HM, Aranda JM, Pauly DF, Hill JA, Neugaard BI, Chumbler NR. Early outcomes of a care coordination-enhanced telehome care program for elderly veterans with chronic heart failure. Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association. 2005 Feb 1; 11(1):20-7.
Veterans with chronic heart failure (HF) are frequently elderly, have numerous comorbid chronic medical illnesses, frequent hospitalizations, and have high rates of cardiovascular events. Within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), primary care providers are required to manage the majority of HF patients because access to cardiac specialty care within the VHA may be limited. We designed and implemented a care-coordinated, nurse-directed home telehealth management program for veterans with difficult-to-manage or new onset chronic systolic HF. An in-home telehealth message device was provided to the patient at enrollment, and patients received daily HF-specific education via the nurse coordinator and/or the device throughout their continuum of care. We collected demographic characteristics, clinical characteristics, and outcome data at the time of enrollment and at nearly 6 months after enrollment. A total of 92 patients were enrolled, with complete data available on 73. The mean patient age was 67 years, the mean left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was 23%, and nearly all patients (99%) were men. After enrollment, significant improvements were found in blood pressure (129/73 to 119/69 mm Hg, p < 0.05), weight (196 to 192 pounds, p < 0.01), and shortness of breath rating (0-10 scale, 4.0 to 2.7, p = 0.02). Average daily doses of fosinopril (24 to 35 mg/d, p < 0.01) and metoprolol (84 to 94 mg/d, p = 0.05) were also improved. The total number of inpatient hospital days were reduced while on the home telehealth program (from 630 for the previous year to 122 for the duration of the program) with only 31% of the hospitalizations related to HF while on the program. Our nurse-directed, care coordinated home telehealth management program was associated with improved early outcomes in a group of elderly male veterans with chronic HF.