This study aimed to test the effectiveness of telemonitoring integrated into existing clinical services in order for intervention and control groups to have access to the same clinical care. Adults with at least one admission for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the year before randomization were considered for inclusion. People who had other significant lung disease, who were unable to provide informed consent or complete the study, or who had other significant social or clinical problems were excluded. Participants were recruited between 21 May 2009 and 28 March 2011, and centrally randomised to receive telemonitoring or conventional self monitoring. Using a touch screen, telemonitoring participants recorded a daily questionnaire about symptoms and treatment use, and monitored oxygen saturation using linked instruments. Algorithms, based on the symptom score, generated alerts if readings were omitted or breached thresholds. Both groups received similar care from existing clinical services. The primary outcome was time to hospital admission due to COPD exacerbation up to one year after randomisation. Other outcomes included number and duration of admissions, and validated questionnaire assessments of health related quality of life (using St George’s respiratory questionnaire (SGRQ)), anxiety or depression (or both), self efficacy, knowledge, and adherence to treatment. Analysis was intention to treat. Of 256 patients completing the study, 128 patients were randomised to telemonitoring and 128 to usual care; baseline characteristics of each group were similar. The number of days to admission did not vary significantly between groups (adjusted hazard ratio 0.98, 95% confidence interval 0.66 to 1.44). Over one year, the mean number of COPD admissions was similar in both groups (telemonitoring 1.2 admissions per person (standard deviation 1.9) v control 1.1 (1.6); P=0.59). Mean duration of COPD admissions over one year was also similar between groups (9.5 days per person (standard deviation 19.1) v 8.8 days (15.9); P=0.88). The intervention did not have any significant effect on SGRQ scores between groups (68.2 (standard deviation 16.3) v 67.3 (17.3); adjusted mean difference 1.39 (95% confidence interval −1.57 to 4.35)), or on other questionnaire outcomes.
The study found that In participants with a history of admission for exacerbations of COPD, telemonitoring was not effective in postponing admissions and did not improve quality of life. The positive effect of telemonitoring observed in previous trials might be a result of enhancement of the underpinning clinical service rather than the telemonitoring communication.