Controversy surrounds home monitoring and diagnosis

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 30 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1354

Over the past 20 years home monitoring of medical conditions has proliferated in the United States, but the growth now is creating criticism from both patient groups and doctors. Home monitoring began with the support of doctors. They believed that when patients monitor their own health progress they have goals to aim at, thus increasing compliance with medical regimens.

The first monitoring was innocuous—thermometers to gauge the effects of antibiotics and bathroom scales to monitor the effects of treatment for congestive heart failure. Then came home glucose monitors, relatively inexpensive kits (less than $100; £70) that help diabetic patients to adjust their own insulin. Home pregnancy kits have become a staple item for many Americans seeking to become pregnant, and kits that detect ovulation are critical to successful conception for couples with infertility problems.

Despite the undoubted benefit of these tests, newer home health monitoring devices have raised questions. …

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