There is a growing and powerful section of telemedicine which uses portable, wireless and high-tech devices to track, collect and transfer data on various things from the patient to the health care providers. This section is called Remote Patient Monitoring.
How did it all start?
200 years ago, if someone felt ill, they were treated in their home by someone who was, back then, recognized as a trained physician. This was usually a close family member, neighbor or a midwife. At that time, surgery was something that was most likely performed in someone’s kitchen, rather than in a hospital. But, thanks to extensive medical studies and research, now patients gets to stay in a hospital for monitoring.
Remote Patient Monitoring most likely started out when two doctors consulted over the phone. In the early 50s, one doctor sent X-ray images to another doctor through a telephone wire. Then in the early 60s we had neurological exams that were transmitted for a consultation and by the early 70s we had psychiatric consultations that started transferring by close-circuit television.
When we fast forward to today and see what RPM has become, we can see that it’s more than just a telecommunication method for doctor consultation or sending MRI scans. Today, RPM can provide the patient with the comfort of staying in their home and still receive good health care.
With RPM, devices that record information allow it to be sent to the physician on a continuous basis. The team is also alerted if the change that occurred, requires medical attention. Furthermore, Remote Patient Monitoring also allows health care providers to better track patients that have been discharged, which should cut back on the readmission rates. Programs that are used for RPM can collect a variety of information such as blood pressure, glucose level, oxygen saturation, temperature, heart rate etc.
Some telehealth services require active video communication, but RPM does not. RPM is also not restricted to a certain area. RPM only requires a piece of technology that will be able to collect patient information and interpret it.
Physicians can utilize the benefits of RPM in monitoring health conditions like:
- Heart disease
- Substance abuse
- Weight fluctuation (weight loss / gain)
The RPM devices that now exist, can all help with managing these issues. They can monitor vital signs, signal the healthcare providers if there are any issues and they can also encourage patients to monitor the information themselves.
Remote Patient Monitoring for Cardiovascular Health
RPM can be extremely beneficial in keeping our heart healthy and can potential ease the burden of cardiovascular disease.
Back in 2015, some healthcare providers announced that almost 50% of their patient interactions were through an e-visit, whether via smartphones, videoconference or other high-tech solutions. Today, these solutions are being used by cardiologists to monitor the status of their patients and their heart conditions.
Many researchers have confirmed that RPM can significantly reduce systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure, when compared how efficient are usual care or self-monitoring. And not just that, RPM may able to enhance the outcomes of atrial fibrillation, which will most likely effect more than 7 million US nationals by 2035.
Diabetes and RPM
Diabetes is yet another chronic condition that can benefit from RPM. In a recent study, done in California, patients were given a wireless Bluetooth glucose meter. With this, they could easily prick their finger, measure their glucose level and automatically sync it with their telephone and digital medical records. This was a much faster and efficient way, than waiting in a waiting room for hours in order to find out whether your blood sugar level is dangerously high or not. This way, doctors can react immediately.
Technology that provides RPM
RPM has evolved constantly. Today, a patient can request a wireless blood pressure cuff that he/she can use at home, connect it with his/her phone and electronically transmit the date to the physician. There are also some cloud-based solutions which can integrate more than one device and provide an even more detailed picture of the patient’s health.
Mobile-enabled RPM or mRPM is a form of technology which is more efficient and cheaper than telephonic RPM so naturally, more and more physicals are using it. mRPM notifies the patient to enter the necessary data and gives the groups of solo practices almost an immediate clinical and financial value.
Doctors that don’t manage patients with chronic conditions, might not be interested in opting in for telemedicine because of the requirements to implement it. However, they can always opt in for mRPM which reminds the patient through push notifications and can create an automated schedule.
Benefits of RPM
There is an abundance of benefits for RPM but the most significant ones include:
- Lower healthcare costs
- Lower hospitalization
- Doctors can better manage their time
- Higher follow-through with patients
Providers that use RPM or other forms of telemedicine have already started reducing hospital readmission penalties. Some studies even suggest that RPM can reduce hospital readmission by 76% and studies also show that the technology and patient satisfaction was over 90% which is truly amazing.