Remote patient monitoring is a technology of telehealth that allows providers to offer healthcare services to patients in their homes. When the pandemic hit, it propelled remote patient monitoring into the spotlight as one of the lucrative care management programs. That is because most hospitals were fully packed; therefore, remote patient monitoring enabled patients to access health services without in-person visits.
Further, RPM has reduced the number of disease transmissions since people don’t have to stay in crowded waiting rooms. Beyond the pandemic, remote patient monitoring promotes patient engagement, an essential aspect of better health outcomes. RPM encourages patients to take part in caring for their well-being actively.
Impact of remote patient monitoring on chronic conditions
After the pandemic began, patients with pre-existing medical conditions were more likely to get the virus. For this reason, most of them couldn’t seek medical care since being in a hospital predisposed them to COVID-19. Therefore, most patients with chronic illnesses delayed or avoided medical care, which caused the conditions to worsen. Besides, living in a pandemic is enough stress to exacerbate a chronic health problem.
Most physicians lacked the right remote patient monitoring tools to provide ongoing care to patients who couldn’t visit a medical facility for one reason or the other. Remote patient monitoring can help mitigate the long-term consequences of delaying healthcare. For example, clinicians used spirometers and pulse oximeters to monitor patients who had been discharged from a care facility after COVID-19. However, many health problems still lack devices to offer adequate care at home.
For patients with diabetes, glucometers allow measuring sugar levels in the blood. There are also mobile health apps whereby people with diabetes can upload their glucose readings to their physicians. However, there is a need for better devices, especially for people with atrial fibrillation and sleep apnea conditions. The available devices only provide clinicians with a fraction of the patients’ conditions, which is often not enough, especially for high-risk patients.
What does remote patient monitoring need to become mainstream?
For more mainstream adoption, remote patient monitoring requires continuous data collection and ease of use. RPM mainly targets patients with chronic health conditions synonymous with intermittent asymptomatic issues. Therefore, users need to see how these devices are of benefit; for example, RPM devices should give patients better insights.
Focusing on solutions that collect long-term data can facilitate adoption. For example, if you are overweight and your goal is to lose 20 pounds, and a device shows you progress, you get more determined to go on. RPM needs to adopt such concepts for it to become more popular.
RPM devices should also be user-friendly and accommodate everyone, including those who may not have the highest technological literacy level. No one wants a complex device that is hard to use. It is essential to consider that most people with chronic health conditions are older adults who may not be up to date with current trends. Therefore, RPM devices shouldn’t pose another challenge but should otherwise be helpful.
The key takeaway about remote patient monitoring during the pandemic
One significant point to note, which was evident during the pandemic, is that people can and will adapt if you show them how essential something is to their well-being. Most people, regardless of age and technological literacy, went out of their comfort zone to familiarize themselves with RMP tools during the pandemic.
Although the transition from in-person visits to virtual appointments was not easy, healthcare providers and patients adapted to the new concept; despite the tight schedules, providers also took their time to learn about RPM and how it can help improve the well-being of patients.
Patients were also quick to learn about RPM devices such as glucometers, oximeters, and digital thermometers. Besides learning, they were also willing to use these devices to support their care. The willingness of users to experiment is a green light for RPM companies to improve on the old appliances and innovate others. Instead of running away from a challenge, people are willing to invest their time and learn new solutions.
Remote patient monitoring was more mainstream in technology companies, but it was nonexistent in the healthcare industry. Like telehealth, RPM can gain more mainstream adoption with usability and continuous data collection.