Can Remote Patient Monitoring Be the New Standard in Primary Care of Chronic Diseases, Post-COVID-19?
Background: One lesson from the current COVID-19 pandemic is the need to optimize health care provision outside of traditional settings, and potentially over longer periods of time. An important strategy is remote patient monitoring (RPM), allowing patients to remain at home, while they transmit health data and receive follow-up services.
Materials and Methods: We conducted an overview of the latest systematic reviews that had included randomized controlled trials with adult patients with chronic diseases. We summarized results and displayed these in forest plots, and used GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation) to assess our certainty of the evidence.
Results: We included 4 systematic reviews that together reported on 11 trials that met our definition of RPM, each including patients with diabetes and/or hypertension. RPM probably makes little to no difference on HbA1c levels. RPM probably leads to a slight reduction in systolic blood pressure, with questionable clinical meaningfulness. RPM probably has a small negative effect on the physical component of health-related quality of life, but the clinical significance of this reduction is uncertain. We have low confidence in the finding that RPM makes no difference to the remaining five primary outcomes.
Conclusion: Most of our findings are consistent with reviews of other, broader definitions of RPM. The type of RPM examined in this review is as effective as standard treatment for patients with diabetes/hypertension. If this or other types of RPM are to be used for “long covid” patients or for other chronic disease groups post-pandemic, we need to understand why RPM may negatively affect quality of life.