Telemedicine is still in its early days but its adoption is growing rapidly now that CMS has approved its use for Medicare patients. Researchers and healthcare organizations around the world are experimenting with remote care technology in various forms to find the best and highest use cases.  We’ve written about telemedicine and telemonitoring used to combat opioid addiction, to augment physical therapy after knee and hip replacement, to store and forward images and test results to specialists, and more. 

meta-study by a team from Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research concluded that telemedicine and telemonitoring were helpful in keeping post-discharged heart failure patients alive at least six months following hospitalization. That glowing news is dulled, however, with the study’s further finding that telemedicine’s positive effect didn’t last beyond one year. 

The 26 post-discharge telemedicine studies consisted of health professionals telemonitoring vital signs measured by devices in the patients’ homes and regular teleconferences with patients to discuss their symptoms. Professor Renee Pekmezaris, the Feinstein Institute team leader, suggested patients may make the program less of a priority as time passes or may become too sick to keep up with aftercare.

The report does not dismiss telemedicine because the current programs appear to lose effectiveness after 12 months. Instead, Pekmezaris and her team are focused on learning when to rely on telemedicine and how to refine programs to help the most patients.