Over the years, remote patient monitoring (RPM) has been seen as a powerful new technology, which will reshape healthcare as we know it—somewhere in the distant future. The unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, have completely altered the telehealth landscape and the way patients receive healthcare services. Today, the healthcare industry urgently needs new technology tools to extend the reach of physicians and support the monitoring of infected, recovered, and discharged patients.
To help healthcare CIOs, CMOs, and other leaders adjust the way they deliver care with RPM and wearables, here are some key facts about RPM technology and the ways it can be employed.
As part of the broader telehealth concept, RPM has received much attention and praise from healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients alike. Back in November 2019, 88% of healthcare providers were already investing in RPM systems. There were multiple reasons behind it:
With the COVID-19 outbreak, the world has changed beyond recognition. The long-discussed remote care has seen more progress in the last two months than in preceding years.
The healthcare industry in every country is facing a multifaceted challenge. Today, HCPs need to advise and treat patients with suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19, provide tailored treatment recommendations, and ensure continuous patient care, when the HCP and hospital access is highly restricted.
Remote care options help preserve healthcare system capacity for COVID-19 patients in a number of ways:
However, most healthcare providers are facing one of the following scenarios:
Healthcare providers are now investigating the opportunities to merge novel RPM tools into their existing IT infrastructures and adapt their legacy systems and databases to the new environment.
According to the Center for Connected Health Policy, “remote patient monitoring uses digital technologies to collect medical and other forms of health data from individuals in one location and electronically transmit that information securely to health care providers in a different location for assessment and recommendations”.
Today, there are multiple RPM systems on the market, which differ in shape, purpose, and features:
Regardless of the functionality and form factor, they all are based on the same technology that collects and interprets physiologic data.
RPM solutions rely on several technology components. These include Body Area Networks (BANs), back-end systems, and user interfaces.
BAN devices use wired, wireless, or hybrid networks to exchange data and communicate with each other. Connected into a single network, the BAN enables local data processing for real-time feedback and centralization of data in a Portable Unit.
Connected into a single RPM system, these elements ensure real-time monitoring outside a medical facility, alerting both the medical staff and the patient in case of any physiological problem or emergency.
A growing interest in RPM systems is a sign of the inevitable trend towards the decentralization of care delivery.
As a result, we are witnessing an exponential increase in the number of RPM projects and wearable devices along with a decrease in the quantity of in-hospital devices and equipment. The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating time to market, serving as a catalyst to global changes in the healthcare industry.
In the upcoming months, the following trends are likely to emerge:
Like any other crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic can become an opportunity to unlock the potential of the new RPM technology and accelerate its implementation and market growth.