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Editor's Correspondence
Nov 12, 2012

Increased Mortality Following Telemonitoring in Frail Elderly Patients: Look Before You Leap!

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Rehabilitation, Nursing Science, and Sports Medicine (Drs Trappenburg and Schuurmans) and Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care (Dr Groenwold), University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(20):1612. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.4421

Telemonitoring is often proposed as an efficient way to provide health care. The recent study by Takahashi et al1 examining telemonitoring in vulnerable patients with mixed chronic diseases clearly reflects the need for meticulous scientific approaches to study these types of interventions. Telemonitoring aims at early detection and prompt action in the case of health deterioration. Although patients reported high satisfaction and a sense of safety,2 telemonitoring failed to reduce hospital admissions and emergency department visits. Surprisingly, it resulted in a 4-fold increase in mortality risk (relative risk, 3.8; 95% CI, 1.3-11.0). This suggests that telemonitoring in frail elderly patients is hazardous, causing more harm than good. However, one can question the validity of this conclusion.