This article by Ambra Health CEO, Morris Panner, was originally published in Forbes on November 27, 2019.
There was a time when people who were ill kept to their sick beds at home, but 20th century advances in medical technology made it necessary (and beneficial) for many people to stay in the hospital for constant monitoring. However, further leaps and bounds in tech are now making it possible for some patients to have the best of both worlds by returning to the comfort of their homes while still having their vitals checked, thanks to remote patient monitoring.
Using monitoring equipment, a healthcare provider can keep tabs on a patient’s clinical data. Glucose meters, ECGs and blood pressure monitors are among the most common types of RPM equipment used, but the array of available technologies is rapidly expanding.
What Patients Can Benefit From Remote Patient Monitoring?
A wide variety of conditions and health concerns can be monitored with RPM technologies, as SearchHealthIT attests, including:
• Heart conditions
• Substance abuse
• Weight gain/loss
There are currently devices, surveillance monitors and programs that can help with all these issues — by tracking vital signs, alerting healthcare professionals of any problems and empowering patients to monitor themselves.
Modern Technology Makes It Possible
Cheaper, portable machines and devices that can be used at home, combined with the power of digital technology and the ubiquity of smartphones, are making remote patient monitoring a reality. Right now, a patient can get a stand-alone blood pressure cuff to use at home, wirelessly connect it to an app on their phone to get a reading and then send the results to their doctor.
Sophisticated cloud-sharing platforms are also a key part of remote patient monitoring. Some of them enable a provider to offer an RPM program for patients because it provides support for integrating numerous devices and allows healthcare professionals to manage patient data. Dedicated patient portals can also empower patients to take more control by both accessing and uploading their health information and images (e.g., X-rays).
A Glimpse Of Some Of The Latest RPM Technology
EpxCOPD by Epharmix is a tool designed to reduce the number of hospitalizations of COPD patients by checking in daily on patients’ breathing status. MedCityNews reports that the tool has helped prevent one hospitalization for every nine patients using it.
Managing diabetes can be very challenging, and a new system called FORA GTel offers blood glucose and blood ketone cellular monitoring. The system facilitates communication between patients and doctors and makes it easy for both parties to access and share real-time data.
AT&T and Anelto Health have collaborated on a new two-way cellular hub called HomeAssure, which is designed specifically for seniors, including those who may not be comfortable with smartphones and tablets.
As Home Healthcare News explains, “The hub works with vital sign monitors and activity trackers to decipher whether seniors are at risk for a fall or exhibiting any other troubling health characteristics … if a senior using the device loses several pounds in a short period of time or has low blood oxygen levels, caregivers are sent an alert and can quickly connect with patients through the device.”
In an article on some of the most promising companies in RPM technology, Business Insider highlights ResMed, a company that it describes as “a leader in cloud-connected devices to manage sleep apnea, asthma, and disordered breathing.” ResMed’s myAir app allows users of its CPAP machines to track key metrics while patients are sleeping so they can get personalized coaching.
Of course, some patients require assistance for more than one condition. Certain applications provide multiple telemonitoring options for a host of ailments including tools for monitoring blood pressure, temperature, glucose, weight, ECG and more, along with the technical capabilities to log and communicate data digitally.
Benefits Of Remote Patient Monitoring
The advantages of implementing remote patient monitoring include convenience and lowering healthcare costs, whether it’s preventing hospitalization or enabling doctors to manage their time better. But it is also a way to increase patient follow-through, which can be problematic for a number of reasons, such as forgetfulness, lack of awareness, or perhaps being located in a rural area far from medical professionals.
In a Health Tech Magazine article, Jen A. Miller provides an instructive example, explaining that only 30% to 40% of women with pregnancy-associated hypertension show up for their four-to-six-week follow-up after having their baby. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center devised an RPM solution by giving women a blood pressure cuff that worked with a smartphone app, and in their pilot program, 88% of participants ended up returning for their six-week visit.
More RPM In The Future
A Consumer Technology Association survey already shows that 68% of physicians surveyed “strongly intend” to use RPM technology to monitor patients in the future. As the technology continues to advance and patients become more comfortable with using it, the “home hospital” is likely to become more and more commonplace in patients’ lives. If you are a medical technology company or healthcare organization, this is a trend to take note of and keep close tabs on.