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The role of telemedicine and mobile health in the monitoring of sleep-breathing disorders: improving patient outcomes

Authors Villanueva JA, Suarez MC, Garmendia O, Lugo V, Ruiz C, Montserrat JM

Received 26 October 2016

Accepted for publication 17 December 2016

Published 3 February 2017 Volume 2017:4 Pages 1—11

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/SHTT.S108048

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Manas Gartia

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Yelena Yesha


Jair A Villanueva,1,* Monique C Suarez,2,* Onintza Garmendia,2,3 Vera Lugo,2 Concepción Ruiz,2 Josep M Montserrat,2–5

1Unit of Biophysics and Bioengineering, Faculty of Medicine, University of Barcelona, 2Sleep Unit, Respiratory Medicine Department, Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, 3Center for Biomedical Research in Respiratory Diseases (CIBERES), Madrid, 4Faculty of Medicine, University of Barcelona, 5August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Abstract: Although the concepts are broad, telemedicine and mobile health (mHealth) can be defined as a methodology to provide health care remotely and improve health services and outcomes using telecommunication tools. The widespread adoption of these technologies and current health care challenges, such as the aging population and increasing costs, has encouraged interest in the development of new strategies involving telemedicine. Overall, there is a lack of evidence rigorously assessing the impact of telemedicine and mHealth. Therefore, proper randomized controlled trials, with cost-effectiveness and impact on quality-of-life analysis, are urgently needed. They should also focus on specific populations and their comorbidities, since customizing telemedicine approaches is paramount to ensure success. Obstructive sleep apnea is a highly prevalent chronic condition and the most common of sleep-breathing disorders, and telemedicine and mHealth could play a pivotal role in the different phases of its management. In the future, using new devices capable of signal acquisition and analysis will refine obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis; even smartphones’ built-in sensors could offer improved comfort and the possibility of home sleep monitoring. Continuous positive airway pressure titration could be performed with wireless devices, whose parameters can be changed remotely from sleep centers. Finally, the follow-up phase could be specially improved by telemedicine by using remote continuous positive airway-pressure data, self-management platforms, and mobile applications for patient feedback. Incorporating new procedures with novel technologies and sensors will probably change the process. Instead of replicating traditional visits, mHealth may provide shorter and more frequent assessments; alarm systems on the patients’ devices could alert physicians or mobile applications with simple questionnaires may help on follow-up. With telemedicine, patients will not be treated in the same way.

Keywords: mHealth, telemedicine, obstructive sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure

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