In the traditional healthcare system, patients need to go to a health facility if they need a specialized medical consultation. It is time-consuming for both the patient and doctor and requires some spendings for getting to the hospital or clinic and paying for the appointment. Yet most of the time face-to-face meetings are not necessary until it is an emergency.
Another disadvantage of the traditional healthcare system is patient reluctance to deal with medical institutions in case a health issue occurs until it is impossible to avoid the contact. Even though the only way to get a documented disease is through an appointment. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) can become a solution. Along with emerging technologies, it is shifting the healthcare model from a ‘hospital-centered’ to ‘home-centered’. As a result, patients get more convenient and affordable service, and medical facilities and physicians have a more efficient and fluent workflow.
A lot of healthcare software development companies are interested in building solutions in the area of remote patient monitoring and other custom healthcare software for managing various conditions. And we see the growing demand for it from healthcare institutions. Global research made by MarketsandMarkets forecasts that the global RPM Market size will reach $117.1 billion by 2025 from $23.2 billion in 2020.
That's why it is essential to understand many important considerations about how remote patient monitoring works, what benefits it brings to patients and physicians, and what challenges may be faced while implementing RPM solutions. In this blog post, we've covered them all for you and discuss how RPM is helping shape the future of healthcare.
How RPM Solutions Function
According to the Center for Connected Health Policy, remote patient monitoring is the use of digital technologies to monitor and capture medical and other health data (heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar level, etc.) from patients and electronically transmit this information to healthcare providers for assessment and, when necessary, provide recommendations and instructions.
RPM gives patients the ability to receive continuous medical support from a doctor while staying at home, and doctors can track a patient’s well-being outside of the hospital, help them maintain control over their conditions, ensure timely interventions from providers, and avoid emergencies. Consequently, it reduces the number of hospitalizations and readmissions as well as the length of stay.
Remote patient monitoring is a type of telehealth delivery system. While RPM is a way of using a specific technology to facilitate remote interaction between doctors and patients, telehealth refers to the entire industry and technologies that enable that type of healthcare.
Many technologies can be used for remote patient monitoring depending on a particular goal and tracked medical indications. All these solutions have a common architecture with the following elements:
- Sensors. They are located on wearable, portable and invasive medical devices like implantable cardiac defibrillators. Using them, doctors can remotely check a patient's blood pressure, weight, temperature, heart rate, etc.
- Local data storage. All the data collected using sensors on the patient's side is stored in a local data storage where it communicates with the centralized repository on the provider's side.
- Centralized repository. It aggregates the data from various sources (sensors, analytics systems, EHR) and stores it.
- Data analysis software. Data received from a centralized repository is analyzed on the insights and sent to providers, caregivers, and patients by request.
These elements form a single RPM system that provides remote communication of medical workers and patients in real time in case of need or of any emergency situation.
A Patient’s Perspective
RPM solutions monitor and deliver a patient's vital statistics to a hospital or clinic (blood pressure and glucose level, temperature, weight, etc.). After doctors receive the results, they can assign therapy and prescribe medications.
RPM solutions also allow physicians to trace data over time and identify abnormalities in readings, for instance, dynamics of blood flow or oxygen levels or how a particular medicine influences a patient's health. If they record any health hazards, the patient gets connected with the doctor to explore solutions.
Using them, the healthcare system can reduce the need for seniors to frequently visit their doctors. Many older people can struggle with frequent in-person visits because they may not have a means of transport to travel to the clinic and back or they may need to spend a lot of time in a waiting room and be exposed to the risk of other illnesses. Moreover, due to the high demand for a particular doctor, seniors may have difficulty booking appointments.
Patients are ready to use telehealth if they get their vital statistics tracked remotely and have a possibility to communicate with their doctors from home instead of going to the medical institution. Easy-to-use technology and communication are the main drivers for 69% and 57% of people, respectively, encouraging people to book a telemedicine appointment. So that must be considered when developing RPM solutions.
Implementing RPM into healthcare means consistent monitoring of patients' health indicators and provision of timely medical care. If patients can get these vital signals and deliver them to a doctor remotely, the treatment approach can be shifted to proactive preventative care reducing the number of emergency cases and the need for a medical appointment.
A Physician’s Perspective
With the help of RPM solutions, doctors can proactively treat patients with chronic illnesses, providing them with the patient's most current vital statistics. Along with data points sent once a day, RPM offers context through a set of rich data that allows healthcare providers to:
- record voice reminders for their patients to help with the care;
- monitor vital statistics of each patient over time and make a diagnosis on its basis;
- view the data in context and quickly respond to the changes;
- prevent the appearance of big problems or the need to go to the clinic or doctor's office due to the proactive assessment;
- communicate fast and effectively with a patient through the RPM device;
- intervene in the patient's care to get their health back to normal.
These benefits from adopting remote patient monitoring solutions can reduce workload of health care institutions and give health professionals more time for face-to-face interactions with gravely ill patients.
Moreover, it allows healthcare providers to eliminate out-of-control expenses and achieve peak performance due to the transparency of medical care and simplicity of its control. RPM solutions coordinate work of all parties and keep them notified about the current status of treatment and patients’ health. As a result, it lowers the risk of being hospitalized and a chance of readmissions. It reduces costs and increases medical reimbursements.
Remote patient monitoring is a win-win solution for both patients and physicians in the value-based care environment. However, some challenges surrounding RPM need to be solved before RPM reaches its ultimate potential.
RPM challenges include:
- Security and privacy. RPM is operated over connected networks, and it is prone to hacking and other forms of privacy breaches unless properly protected. Privacy and cyber security must have been controlled in place within the RPM ecosystem to protect patient data from being compromised.
- Availability of a stable and reliable internet connection. Without it, it will be impossible to transfer data from the patient to the doctor. Patient's data can also be lost or corrupted because of internet outages, resulting in undermining the real-time aspect of RPM and losing data value.
- Inability of some elderly patients to handle RPM-related communication using mobile phones or personal computers due to the lack of devices or not knowing how to use them.
- Control over the adherence to the instructions remotely. Patients leaving the clinical settings may be tempted to skip medicine intake or violate dietary restrictions because no one is watching them follow all the instructions.
- Lack of technical support. When remote patient monitoring solutions are not working, it is more complicated for patients to get them quickly fixed while doctors can get help from IT support.
Emerging technologies like AI, blockchain, data analytics, etc., and opting for custom software development services can help overcome these challenges and accelerate RPM’s implementation and adoption. This represents a tremendous growth opportunity for the healthcare system to meet the demand and provide better access to the service for those patients who benefit most from RPM.
Remote patient monitoring is no longer a trend but rather a necessity to all companies that want to safeguard the relevance of their services for years to come. Understanding its importance will continue to rise, and technology will become more sophisticated, which should spur further advancement. With it, the patient-centric approach will become the major point of care, allowing providers to win customers' loyalty and, at the same time, optimize operational efficiency and planning.
Remote patient monitoring solutions are transforming the healthcare industry, and it is time for practices to benefit from them with a solid software vendor. As a developer with experience in creating a telemedicine platform that helps remotely detect and monitor retinal diseases, we at Upsilon are excited to guide you through the RPM process and help you identify the technology stack to provide care that best meets your patients' needs. Contact us to learn more about remote patient monitoring solutions that we can build for you.