Hammersmith Hospital study finds remote monitoring of heart attack patients less likely to be readmitted

A research study exploring the impact of remote monitoring on patients who had recently experienced a heart attack reportedly found that “telemedicine patients were 76 percent less likely to be readmitted to hospital within six months and 41 percent less likely to attend A&E, compared to those who followed normal care pathways”.

The study involved 337 patients who had presented at Hammersmith Hospital with acute coronary syndromes over 15 months and were considered high risk for a secondary heart attack. Half of the group had devices installed at home which enabled them to send vital signs and call specialist cardiology teams for a remote consultation when they were worried by symptoms. The other half of the group followed normal care pathways involving medication, GP consultations and hospital visits if worried.

Other key results from the research highlighted that the telemedicine cohort had a 15 percent lower risk of repeat heart attacks after nine months; a lower number of unplanned surgical procedures on the blood vessels of the heart; and a lower rate of strokes. For the patients in the telemedicine group who were readmitted to hospital, “the average length of stay was half a day – much less than the average one and a half days in the standard care group”. Additionally, at six months chest pain was reported to be lower in the telemedicine group, as was breathlessness and dizziness.

Dr Ramzi Khamis, consultant cardiologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and BHF research fellow at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, said that the approach is “focused on sparing valuable time and resources while providing a well-informed treatment plan for high-risk patients experiencing worrying symptoms. The study clearly showed that sending vital information straight to cardiology teams, coupled with a consultation, led to seemingly better care, reductions in admissions, average length of stay and A&E attendance.”

Dr Khamis added that “this simple strategy could potentially free up thousands of hospital beds and doctors’ hours across the country whilst keeping patients just as safe. We are now looking at working with the NHS and other healthcare systems globally to adopt this strategy and hopefully improve treatment for future patients.”

Professor James Leiper, associate medical director at the BHF, added that whilst the results are “very encouraging and have the potential to relieve some of the current pressure on the NHS”, it is “important that the NHS has enough trained and supported staff to deliver on this approach, and the tools to identify and target the right patients.”

The study was funded by the British Heart Foundation with research carried out at Imperial College London. It was presented at the American College of Cardiology conference this spring and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in June, with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust also sharing insight into the research here.

Wider trend 

Last month we highlighted plans to trial a system designed to support patients living with rheumatoid arthritis to send daily symptoms to their health record from the University of Manchester, with the trial set to run at 16 hospitals across Greater Manchester and North West London during 2024 and 2025.

Earlier in the year, we looked into an article published in the British Journal of General Practice which examined the training needs for staff providing remote services in general practice, finding that current training tends to be didactic in nature although participants say they value experience, informal discussion and on-the-job learning methods such as shadowing.