Applicability of structured telephone monitoring to follow up heart failure patients discharged from Muhimbili National Hospital, Tanzania
Background: Studies from developed countries have shown that home monitoring and follow up of heart failure (HF) patients by use of phone calls is cost-effective as it reduces re-admission and improves patients’ clinical status. This intervention has however not been tested in resource poor countries including Tanzania, and there are questions as to whether it is applicable in such situations. This study was carried out to determine the applicability of structured telephone monitoring of HF patients discharged from Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Methods: All heart failure patients admitted at the hospital’s Cardiovascular Medicine Department between August and December 2014 were consecutively recruited. Information on their clinical and demographic characteristics was collected and their mobile phone numbers recorded. Patients were then contacted through their phones on day 7, 14 and 30 post discharge and inquiry on their clinical status was made.
Results: A total of 164 HF patients were admitted during the study period, of these 4 declined to participate, 3 could not establish a phone number and 26 died before discharge leaving 131 (79.9%) for follow-up. The mean age was 45±19 years and 56.5% were women. The proportion of patients that could be contacted through mobile phones were 96.2%, 94.7% and 93.9% on day 7, 14 and 30 post discharge, respectively. Over 90% of the contacted patients gave valuable information regarding their clinical status.
Conclusion: Majority of HF patients can be contacted and provide valuable clinical information through mobile phones within a month post discharge from the national hospital in Tanzania. Structured telephone monitoring could be used as a tool to follow up HF patients in a resource-poor country like Tanzania.