Implantable monitoring devices have been developed to detect early evidence of heart failure (HF) decompensation, with the hypothesis that early detection might enable clinicians to commence therapy sooner than would otherwise be possible, and potentially to reduce the rate of hospitalization. In addition to the usual challenges inherent to device trials (such as the difficulty of double-blinding and potential for bias), studies of implantable monitoring devices present unique difficulties because they involve assessment of therapeutic end points for diagnostic devices. Problems include the lack of uniform approaches to treatment in study protocols for device alerts or out-of-range values, and the requirement of levels of evidence traditionally associated with therapeutic devices to establish effectiveness and safety. In this Review, the approaches used to deal with these issues are discussed, including the use of objective primary end points with blinded adjudication, identical duration of follow-up and number of encounters for patients in active monitoring and control groups, and treatment recommendations between groups that are consistent with international guidelines. Remote monitoring devices hold promise for reducing the rate of hospitalization among patients with HF. However, optimization of regulatory approaches and clinical trial design is needed to facilitate further evaluation of the effectiveness of combining health information technology and medical devices.