4 MIN. READ
More than 50 million patients are projected to use a remote-monitoring device by 2021, a stark increase from the 7 million using one in 2016. The significant growth of the remote-monitoring market in recent years can be attributed to increasing demand from an aging population and a growing awareness of the benefits that devices bring to the continuum of care.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a type of telehealth delivery system that focuses on using today’s consumer-friendly personal tech products to bridge the space between traditional physical healthcare settings and where patients work and live. It involves use of digital technology to collect medical and health data from patients (usually in their homes) and electronically transmit it to providers for assessment, monitoring and recommendations.
Virtually all RPM technology, such as glucose meters, blood pressure monitors, diet-logging programs, continuous-surveillance monitors and remote infertility treatment monitoring, is enabled by telehealth technology and methodology.
RPM has powerful impacts on helping healthcare organizations support patient health and wellness. The technology can enable clinicians to:
- Deliver higher-quality care to patients
- Lower costs and increase efficiency of care
- Lower the risk of burnout, because the technology can reduce traditional in-person healthcare visits
- Improve support, education and communication
- Obtain real-time updates concerning patient conditions, leading to better decision-making
- Easily gain access to more-comprehensive and relevant patient data
RPM benefits for patients
RPM also delivers numerous benefits to patients who want to improve their health and receive higher-quality care. They include:
Better access to healthcare
The rise in the number of healthcare consumers and the associated cost of services, procedures and treatments make it increasingly difficult for some patients to get access to the care they need. In addition, the 57 million Americans who live in rural areas face a pervasive and pressing problem; providers and practitioners are few and far between.
Because of constrained financial resources, physician shortages, limited workforces and remote geographic locations, those individuals find it difficult, expensive and inconvenient to obtain care. Resolving those challenges will require the use of digital solutions, especially RPM devices. With RPM capabilities, physicians can reach and treat more patients, providing them better access to caregivers and services.
RPM virtually connects clinicians directly with relevant, real-time patient data, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of their daily rounds, office visits and routines, helping to deliver quality care.
By using consumer-centric technology (smartphones, tablets, apps, etc.), RPM helps improve patient engagement and behavior, and makes consumers more accountable for their own care. Effective enterprise performance management programs aim to use technology that’s familiar and comfortable for patients, unlike the largely impersonal medical technology they’re typically exposed to in healthcare settings.
RPM provides patients with better levels of feedback, communication and education for enhanced disease-management support. That makes for better health outcomes, reduced readmission rates and improved population health.
RPM technology examples
Some of the common RPM devices include digital blood-pressure cuffs patients can use to send their pulse and blood pressure readings remotely to physicians, and voice applications that remind diabetes patients to take their insulin.
Many smartphone apps and telehealth devices also collect a variety of important health data, such as patient movement, sleep patterns, breathing rate, pulse rates, skin temperature and blood-oxygen saturation level. Once they’ve collected the requisite data, the devices and applications can transmit the information wirelessly to healthcare professionals for analysis and assessment.
Another type of RPM is Keenly Health’s Virtual Medical Assistant that monitors patients’ vital signs, movement and visitor presence using contact-free radar for senior-living patients. The data is securely transmitted to a virtual dashboard where caregivers can monitor individual patient and population status in real time, and identify trends from their smartphone or PC.
The future of RPM
Miniaturization is an emerging development in RPM technology, and device manufacturers seek to expand their market share by making their solutions smaller and less invasive. For instance, Dexcom is partnering with Verily (Alphabet’s life sciences unit) to design an implantable diabetes sensor that uses Bluetooth to transmit health data to smartphones and other monitoring devices.
Indications are that future innovations in RPM will focus on strategies for managing the explosion of data in healthcare settings. As such, providers should look to big-data analytics and device manufacturers who use artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to expand usage and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their RPM devices.
With reports indicating significant RPM industry growth (the global market to exceed $31 billion by 2023), forward-thinking organizations should consider how they can expand their RPM offerings and integration capabilities.
Want to learn more about using remote patient monitoring to enhance care? Read Keenly Health’s story. Need help with the design, development, or strategy of a consumer-friendly RPM tool or other technology? Contact us today.