Younger patients (under age 65) and those with lower health literacy were less likely to stick with telemonitoring technology for tracking their heart failure condition, compared to older patients and those with high health literacy skills, according to new research.

Telemonitoring systems use information technology to monitor patients remotely. They are rapidly emerging as a strategy to improve care for patients with heart failure, however, results are mixed. This study finds that patient characteristics are important in determining who will use new technologies and how that may be critical to success.

In the six-month study, researchers evaluated 826 patients enrolled in the telemonitoring arm of the Tele-HF multicenter randomized clinical trial. They examined usage of a telephone system that allowed patients to use the phone's keypad to enter daily information on their symptoms and weight. They found:

* Eighty-six percent of patients (707 patients) initiated use of the system.

* Patients who were under age 65 and those who said they were most satisfied with their care were more likely to start using telemonitoring technology.

* After a week, 90 percent of those who started the system were inputting their weight and symptom data at least three days per week.

* By the end of the study, more than half (55 percent of patients) continued to participate three days each week.

* Younger patients (under age 65) and those who had lower health literacy rates (the ability to understand information needed to make informed health decisions) were less likely to stick with the telemonitoring program for six months.

Patients were 19 to 90 years old, average age 61, 44 percent were women, and half were minority.

Understanding factors that influence whether a patient will participate and stay in remote monitoring may help improve the design and therefore the participation in such programs, researchers said.