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Evaluation of CirrhoCare® – a digital health solution for home management of individuals with cirrhosis

Published:September 07, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2022.08.034

      Highlights

      • CirrhoCare® achieved good patient engagement and positive user feedback for the remote home management of decompensated cirrhosis.
      • The system detects early signs of new decompensation and enables timely intervention.
      • Remotely managed patients had fewer admissions than controls and improved disease severity scores over 10 weeks.
      • CirrhoCare® may aid hepatologists with the early diagnosis of new post-discharge decompensations.

      Background & Aims

      Individuals with cirrhosis discharged from hospital following acute decompensation are at high risk of new complications. This study aimed to assess the feasibility and potential clinical benefits of remote management of individuals with acutely decompensated cirrhosis using CirrhoCare®.

      Methods

      Individuals with cirrhosis with acute decompensation were followed up with CirrhoCare® and compared with contemporaneous matched controls, managed with standard follow-up. Commercially available monitoring devices were linked to the smartphone CirrhoCare® app, for daily recording of heart rate, blood pressure, weight, % body water, cognitive function (CyberLiver Animal Recognition Test [CL-ART] app), self-reported well-being, and intake of food, fluid, and alcohol. The app had 2-way patient–physician communication. Independent external adjudicators assessed the appropriateness of CirrhoCare®-based decisions.

      Results

      Twenty individuals with cirrhosis were recruited to CirrhoCare® (mean age 59 ± 10 years, 14 male, alcohol-related cirrhosis [80%], mean model for end-stage liver disease–sodium [MELD-Na] score 16.1 ± 4.2) and were not statistically different to 20 contemporaneous controls. Follow-up was 10.1 ± 2.4 weeks. Fifteen individuals showed good engagement (≥4 readings/week), 2 moderate (2–3/week), and 3 poor (<2/week). In a usability questionnaire, the median score was ≥9 for all questions. Five CirrhoCare®-managed individuals had 8 readmissions over a median of 5 (IQR 3.5–11) days, and none required hospitalisation for >14 days. Sixteen other CirrhoCare®-guided patient contacts were made, leading to clinical interventions that prevented further progression. Appropriateness was confirmed by adjudicators. Controls had 13 readmissions in 8 individuals, lasting a median of 7 (IQR 3–15) days with 4 admissions of >14 days. They had 6 unplanned paracenteses compared with 1 in the CirrhoCare® group.

      Conclusions

      This study demonstrates that CirrhoCare® is feasible for community management of individuals with decompensated cirrhosis with good engagement and clinically relevant alerts to new decompensating events. CirrhoCare®-managed individuals have fewer and shorter readmissions justifying larger controlled clinical trials.

      Impact and implications

      As the burden of cirrhosis grows worldwide, increasing demands are being placed on limited healthcare resources, necessitating the adoption of more sustainable care models that allow for at-home patient management. The CirrhoCare® management system was developed to fill this care gap, deploying a novel combination of hardware, apps, and algorithms, to monitor and intervene in individuals at risk of new decompensation. This study highlights the possibility of reducing hospital readmissions for cirrhosis by optimising specialist community care, reducing the need for interventions such as paracentesis, while providing a more sustainable care pathway that is acceptable to patients. However, given the pilot and non-randomised nature of this study, the outcomes require further validation in a larger randomised controlled trial, to assess both clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. Moreover, the data generated will also facilitate data modelling and further research to refine the CirrhoCare® algorithms to increase their detection sensitivity and utility.

      Graphical abstract

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