Journal of Medical Internet Research (May 2021)

The Costs and Cardiovascular Benefits in Patients With Peripheral Artery Disease From a Fourth-Generation Synchronous Telehealth Program: Retrospective Cohort Study

  • Lee, Jen-Kuang,
  • Hung, Chi-Sheng,
  • Huang, Ching-Chang,
  • Chen, Ying-Hsien,
  • Wu, Hui-Wen,
  • Chuang, Pao-Yu,
  • Yu, Jiun-Yu,
  • Ho, Yi-Lwun

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 23, no. 5
p. e24346


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BackgroundPatients with peripheral artery disease (PAD) are at high risk for major cardiovascular events, including myocardial infarction, stroke, and hospitalization for heart failure. We have previously shown the clinical efficacy of a fourth-generation synchronous telehealth program for some patients, but the costs and cardiovascular benefits of the program for PAD patients remain unknown. ObjectiveThe telehealth program is now widely used by higher-risk cardiovascular patients to prevent further cardiovascular events. This study investigated whether patients with PAD would also have better cardiovascular outcomes after participating in the fourth-generation synchronous telehealth program. MethodsThis was a retrospective cohort study. We screened 5062 patients with cardiovascular diseases who were treated at National Taiwan University Hospital and then enrolled 391 patients with a diagnosis of PAD. Of these patients, 162 took part in the telehealth program, while 229 did not and thus served as control patients. Inverse probability of treatment weighting (IPTW) based on the propensity score was used to mitigate possible selection bias. Follow-up outcomes included heart failure hospitalization, acute coronary syndrome, stroke, and all-cause readmission during the 1-year follow-up period and through the last follow-up. ResultsThe mean follow-up duration was 3.1 (SD 1.8) years for the patients who participated in the telehealth program and 3.2 (SD 1.8) for the control group. The telehealth program patients exhibited lower risk of ischemic stroke than did the control group in the first year after IPTW (0.9% vs 3.5%; hazard ratio [HR] 0.24; 95% CI 0.07-0.80). The 1-year composite endpoint of vascular accident, including acute coronary syndrome and stroke, was also significantly lower in the telehealth program group after IPTW (2.4% vs 5.2%; HR 0.46; 95% CI 0.21-0.997). At the end of the follow-up, the telehealth program group continued to exhibit a significantly lower rate of ischemic stroke than did the control group after IPTW (0.9% vs 3.5%; HR 0.52, 95% CI 0.28-0.93). Furthermore, the medical costs of the telehealth program patients were not higher than those of the control group, whether in terms of outpatient, emergency department, hospitalization, or total costs. ConclusionsThe PAD patients who participated in the fourth-generation synchronous telehealth program exhibited lower risk of ischemic stroke events over both mid- and long-term follow-up periods. However, larger-scale and prospective randomized clinical trials are needed to confirm our findings.