Lack of improvement of clinical outcomes by a low-cost, hospital-based heart failure management programme

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Abstract

Objective

Heart failure (HF) is a major health problem resulting in a high financial burden for the healthcare system. Many previous HF management programmes reduced adverse clinical outcomes and costs, but they usually involved several professional figures as well as huge investments, requiring resources and budgets not often available in our healthcare system. We evaluated the effects of our HF management programme, which included patient education and regular outpatient contact with the HF team, on re-hospitalisation and death, optimising the few resources already available at our hospital.

Methods

Two hundred consecutive patients admitted to the internal medicine department with a diagnosis of HF were randomised to the intervention group (nurse-led education programme, facilitated telephone communication and follow-up visits with an internist at 15 days, 1 and 6 months) or to the usual care group (follow-up by their primary care physician). The primary endpoints were all-cause readmissions and all-cause deaths during the 6-month post-discharge period.

Results

There were 81 all-cause hospital readmissions in the intervention group and 82 in the control group (P = NS). Fourteen patients (14%) in the intervention group and eight patients (8%) in the control group died during the study period (P = NS). Unplanned outpatient visits were less frequent in the intervention group than in the control group (39 [28%] versus 99 [72%], P < 0.001).

Conclusions

The present low-cost HF management programme reduced unplanned outpatient visits but proved ineffective in reducing subsequent readmissions and in improving clinical status. More intense follow-up monitoring and more resources are needed to achieve better results.

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