A Comprehensive Guide to Remote Patient Monitoring: Everything you need to know 

July 14, 2022

Patient monitoring is a difficult task at hand when the patient lives at a distance from the clinic. This issue was more prevalent during the coronavirus pandemic when people were confined to their homes and could not travel to the doctor’s office to keep regular checkups. 

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM), also known as Remote Physiologic Monitoring, was the much-needed paradigm shift that revolutionized digital healthcare in the USA and now in many other countries. While this technology has been an ever-evolving work in progress for over a decade, it became an integral part of the healthcare industry near the pandemic. 

The concept utilized digital technologies such as IoT, Artificial Intelligence, and more to monitor patient health remotely, store their vital statistics and transmit the information to the healthcare providers for regular assessment with necessary recommendations for treatment. Not only did Remote Patient Monitoring curb the peripheral costs around healthcare, such as traveling and healthcare delivery, but it also made healthcare more accessible for people in remote areas. Besides, this technological breakthrough in the healthcare industry has made people with chronic diseases and physical ailments seek medical attention and become more attentive to their overall health. 

However, since RPM is a relatively new concept, only a few people understand the benefits of its implementation and, therefore, still choose face-to-face checkups and patient monitoring over RPM. Keeping that in mind, let's get to the roots of Remote Patient Monitoring with this comprehensive guide!

What is Remote Patient Monitoring?

Simply put, Remote Patient Monitoring refers to monitoring, documenting, sharing, and analyzing patients' health, progress, and vital signs using digital means, i.e., remote technology.  Using self-monitoring, smart devices powered with artificial intelligence, machine learning, and IoT,-healthcare providers can gather patient-generated health data and monitor their patients’ chronic health conditions around the clock to provide proper treatments and recommendations for the same. Since patients can't be monitored in-person 24x7, RPM helps doctors keep track of their patients around the clock using devices. RPM provides additional visibility into the patient's lifestyle to understand their conditions better. 

A significant benefit of Remote Patient Monitoring is that patients are provided with the necessary medical-grade monitoring equipment - for instance, a diabetes patient will be provided with a glucose meter and blood pressure cuffs that will automatically transmit their vital stats and other valid information to the clinic for better analysis.

Basically, Remote Monitoring allows the medical staff to monitor their patients all day, every day, without bringing them to the clinic or keeping them under their observation in long-term facilities such as nursing homes or hospitals. Remote monitoring allows patients to lead an everyday life Albeit their medical conditions, live with their families, and get proper medical attention to cure their ailments. RPM also gives medical professionals the flexibility to observe their patient’s health remotely, store accurate and detailed data about their lifestyle, progress, and problems, and provide treatment to them remotely, using telehealth devices/platforms- and only call them to the clinic when it is unavoidable.

RPM also provides a unique perspective to clinicians about their patient's health, which helps prevent the deterioration of health that might happen in between clinic appointments. 

Is Remote Patient Monitoring and Telehealth the same?

It is a common notion that Remote Patient Monitoring and Telehealth are synonymous in concept. We are here to tell you that while they go hand-in-hand, they are, in fact, very different from each other. While Telehealth talks about digitalizing patient communication, healthcare methodology, and treatment techniques in the health industry, Remote Patient Monitoring, as mentioned above, refers to using digital technologies to monitor patients’ health remotely. 

Remote Patient Monitoring falls under the broad umbrella of Telehealth, which refers to using a specific technology to facilitate the interaction between patients and medical professionals at different geographical locations and automate patient data collection outside the clinic. The data is then virtually monitored by clinicians and doctors for ongoing patient care, research, communication, diagnosis, and more. At the same time, the concept of Telehealth includes distributing healthcare services, monitoring patients, and providing treatments, information, and cures using digital media and telecommunication technologies for fast, accessible, and efficient healthcare to all. The concept of Telehealth stands on the idea of providing medical aid, consultation, medication, and cure without letting geographical boundaries and the inability to visit clinics intervene. 

How does RPM work? 

Remote Patient Monitoring connects patients and medical professionals digitally, regardless of their geographical location or time zone. Patients are provided with the necessary equipment to monitor themselves, collect their health statistics, understand their condition, and then transfer the data to the health clinics for further analysis, diagnosis, and treatment plans. 

Devices like Oximeters, Smart wearables, Blood pressure monitors, calorie trackers, glucose meters, etc., are connected to cloud storage servers that regularly save the patient’s measurements and vital stats. Using these devices, professionals can monitor weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, oxygen saturation, heart rate, and electrocardiograms from any point of care. This real-time data transmission is life-saving since it allows fast and precise decision-making.

The patient health data is received on healthcare platforms, applications, or dashboards like Mahalo Health, which help healthcare providers/clinicians store the information, pass it on to other healthcare professionals or use them further. 

The data stored is analyzed by doctors and lab technicians using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms to make accurate diagnoses and provide recommendations for treatments, medications, and more. 

AI and ML play a major role in making remote monitoring a success since it automates clinical workflows with the help of efficient data analytics and aid healthcare providers with insights into patient care. These platforms also assist doctors and clinicians in alerting patients, modifying their treatment plans and medications, or taking emergency actions as and when required. 

The main function of Remote Patient Monitoring is to aid clinicians in keeping track of their patient's progress after they are discharged from the care facilities and are back in their homes. Continuous monitoring helps them make necessary changes and make health-related decisions for their patients, thus reducing the need for them to be readmitted to the care facilities. Besides, Remote Patient Monitoring enables doctors to collect accurate patient data, record each progress- however minor or significant, and rely on these numbers for better diagnosis or use them for face-to-face interaction with the patients. 

Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring 

Implementing Remote Patient Monitoring for patients, doctors, and clinicians have numerous benefits. Let's delve deeper into the prevalent advantages of RPM in today’s times. 

1. Improved patient engagement and satisfaction

The most talked about benefit of implementing Remote Patient Monitoring is that it makes patients know that they are looked after and cherished even when discharged from the nursing homes. Since the patients know that they are constantly and consistently monitored via electronic devices and that their doctors can be contacted instantaneously if there is an emergency-  they, too, go an extra mile to make positive changes in their lifestyle and get better. Besides, this also encourages the patients to take their timely measurements and participate actively in getting better. 

With the help of Telehealth and RPM, medical professionals are now equipped to teach their patients how to look after themselves after their virtual and in-person check-ups. With the rise in proactiveness, patients are developing due to RPM and the satisfaction they enjoy with the enhanced medical attention; RPM has increased patient engagement and satisfaction but also the outcomes of treatments. 

2. Improved Billing

Remote Monitoring is proving to be extremely beneficial for patients and healthcare providers alike. RPM has helped the industry achieve an edge by implementing various treatments that are attracting more patients across different geographical boundaries. The US government, with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is working on boosting telehealth and RPM with CPT- allowing healthcare providers to bill for virtual consultations and remote monitoring. 

Additionally, since RPM is so convenient for patients because they can access medical assistance from the comfort of their homes, there is a reduction in the number of patient no-shows and, thus, an increase in the revenue of the clinics. 

3. Accessible healthcare for patients in remote areas

Before RPM came into the picture, patients living in remote areas had to travel long distances to seek medical help from trustworthy and qualified doctors. People suffering from chronic diseases who needed regular health checkups often faced a lot of inconveniences when it came to scheduling face-to-face appointments at the clinic and showing up for the checkup. 

During the CoronaVirus pandemic, people faced a lot of inconveniences when they couldn’t get satisfactory medical consultations and regular health checkups just because they were confined to their homes. But with Remote Patient Monitoring, patients can now access healthcare and treatments for chronic ailments easily, without having to travel distances. 

Besides, RPM is also benefitting the healthcare industry since now they are reaching out to remote areas and offering their expertise to people living there at meager costs. RPM is being used to connect inhabitants of rural locations and people who cannot access traditional healthcare and aid them in managing their conditions independently, as well as getting satisfactory attention when required.

4. Better disease management and treatments

Obviously, it is difficult to manage patients with chronic ailments, especially if they are geographically constrained. Besides, chronic diseases constitute about 90% or more than $3 trillion per year of healthcare expenditure in the United States, but fortunately, they can be controlled, avoided, and treated by simple lifestyle changes. Additionally, with Remote Patient Monitoring, it has become more convenient for patients as well as medical providers to manage their patients’ ailments and treatments digitally. Clinicians have successfully managed several chronic health conditions such as Diabetes (Type 1 and 2), Hypertension, Heart Failure, and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) by implementing Remote Patient Monitoring.

Today, patients don’t need to visit health clinics at the drop of a hat to keep their vital statistics in control. Blood sugar, blood pressure, body weight, hypertension, and other health parameters can be monitored by doctors remotely with the help of RPM and electronic devices.

5. Improved quality of healthcare

Improved quality of healthcare and better illness management and treatments can prevent many life-threatening conditions, readmissions to healthcare facilities, and regular, costly visits to the doctor’s office. Remote monitoring not only ensures quality healthcare to all patients, regardless of their location and medical budget but also reduces the risk of serious and expensive medical conditions that may incur. This is so because RPM encourages patients to get periodic health checkups, health analyses, and recommendations for diet, medication and more to guide them in maintaining their health parameters, such as blood sugar levels and body weight.

The most prominent benefit of RPM for patients is that the accessible health reports and insights into their progress and ailments provide them with a proper diagnosis and treatment prescription that equips them to take the initiative toward their health as well. Besides, with RPM, patients no longer wait for their condition to worsen before seeking medical attention or getting checked- which is a rather common notion with traditional health checkups. Remote Patient Monitoring enables patients to interact with their doctors and enquire about their symptoms and health troubles at a very early stage. 

Final Thoughts

It is very easy to say that Remote Patient Monitoring is here to stay. Its significance in the health industry is multiplying exponentially and is foreseen to grow in the future as well. RPM’s assured cost-effectiveness, efficiency in the workforce, patient satisfaction, and positive health outcomes are steadily contributing to the popularity of the idea among patients as well as medical professionals. Remote Patient Monitoring is expected to rise and evolve further, especially in the technological sector, where more devices and technologies can be implemented for improved monitoring and faster disease diagnosis. 

Mahalo Health is a healthcare platform that provides the industry with a fully equipped platform to store patient data, interact with patients and monitor their health remotely. From decentralized clinical trials to digital therapeutics and remote patient monitoring, Mahalo Health has the perfect technological solution to supplement your healthcare practice and engage your patients in a satisfying diagnostic experience. 

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