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An estimated 5 million Americans have congestive heart failure (CHF) and one in five over the age of 40 will develop CHF. There are numerous examples of CHF patients living beyond the years normally expected for people with the disease, usually attributed to taking an active role in disease management. A relatively new alternative for CHF outpatient care is telemedicine and e-health. We investigated the effects of a 6-week in-home telemedicine education and monitoring program for those with systolic dysfunction on the utilization of health care resources. We also measured the effects of the unit 4.5 months after its removal (a total of 6 months post introduction of the unit into the home). Concurrently, we assessed participants' perceptions of the value of having a telemedicine unit. Participants in the telemedicine group reported weighing more times a week with less variability than did the control group. Telemedicine led to a reduction in physician and emergency department visits and those in the experimental group reported the unit facilitating self-care, though this was not significantly different from the control group (possibly due to small sample size). These findings suggest a possibility for improvement in control of CHF when telemedicine is implemented. Our review of the literature also supports the role of telemedicine in facilitating home health care and self-management for CHF patients. There are many challenges still to be addressed before this potential can be reached and further research is needed to identify opportunities in telemedicine.

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Copyright © 2008 Pennie S. Seibert et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. DOI:10.1155/2008/235031