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      [Disease management for heart failure patients: role of wireless technologies for telemedicine. The ICAROS project].

      Giornale italiano di cardiologia (2006)
      Aged, Ambulatory Care, Computers, Handheld, utilization, Disease Management, Feasibility Studies, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Heart Failure, psychology, therapy, Home Care Services, Humans, Intensive Care, Italy, Male, Microcomputers, Middle Aged, Patient Compliance, Questionnaires, Telemedicine, Time Factors

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          Healthcare costs for heart failure are increasing. The need for a better care, however, has to be matched with a policy of cost containment. A way to improve the cost-effectiveness of heart failure care is the disease management approach, in which therapy, education and follow-up are tailored for each patient by a multidisciplinary team. Such a complex intervention can be facilitated by the use of telemedicine, which allows the remote control of considerable amounts of clinical data. In Italy, a few studies with telemedicine have been reported. A recent development in this field is represented by the ICAROS project (Integrated Care vs Conventional Intervention in Cardiac Failure Patients: Randomized Open Label Study), whose aim is to improve the clinical and psychological care of heart failure patients employing advanced wireless telecommunication technology. So far, we randomized 60 patients: 30 in usual ambulatory care, 30 in an intensive treatment group. The latter patients were instructed to use a portable computer to get in touch daily with the heart failure clinic and receive feedback instruction for the management of drug therapy and daily problems. At the first year of follow-up, the treatment group showed good compliance to drug prescriptions, and could easily handle the portable computer. The preliminary results of this ongoing study support the feasibility and appropriateness of new technologies for the management of heart failure, even in elderly patients in whom a limited expertise with these appliances could have been anticipated.

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