Remote Patient Monitoring

IoT & Healthcare: Remote Patient Monitoring

Adoption of IoT within healthcare continues to grow at a rapid pace, with one of the biggest growth areas being Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM). And while RPM was already taking off pre-Covid, the global pandemic has driven home the need for remote care. Nearly 90% of healthcare providers have invested in or plan to invest in Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM). Remote Patient Monitoring technologies improve patient and clinical experience, and lead to better outcomes and lower costs.

What is Remote Patient Monitoring?

Remote Patient Monitoring is a subset of telehealth that uses digital technology to facilitate the collection, transmission, evaluation, and communication of patient health data via electronic devices, which include wearable sensors, implanted devices, and handheld instruments. These monitor patient health outside traditional clinical settings, as well as collect medical and other forms of health data on everything from blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels to heart rate, sleep patterns, and bathroom usage.

 

Remote Patient Monitoring is for ideal patients who are, for example, recovering from surgery, dealing with a chronic condition, or aging in place. RPM can be anything from tracking vital signs to a wearable that detects falls or lack of movement.

The collection of patient data outside of medical centers facilitates care for conditions ranging from chronic diseases to recovery from acute episodes, and not only does RPM allow for better, more precise care, it is particularly beneficial to elderly and vulnerable patients and patients with multiple comorbid conditions as it allows these patients to continue living in their own homes for longer periods of time. Additionally, RPM reduces hospitalizations, readmissions, and length of hospital stay, which in turn improves quality of life and controls costs and enables doctors to act preventatively in regard to the correct medicine, which helps avoid complications.

Patient and provider buy in

Each year a multitude of innovations are brought to the market but many of these solutions don’t take off due to a disconnect between patient-provider needs and obstacles within healthcare systems that prevent the progression and successful adoption of RPM.

Remote Patient Monitoring programs are only successful when the patient understands and welcomes the value of the service and commits to doing their part. Devices must be easy to use, and their benefits clearly laid out to the patient. An easy, out-of-the-box user experience will go a long way towards smoothing the path of patient adoption.  If devices are too complex to configure, uncomfortable, or difficult to use, patients will not accept them.

Not all monitoring systems are created equal, though, and a multi-platform approach, such as apps that can handle multiple conditions across a wide range of devices, is key to fulfilling the potential of RPM. These devices need to be able to filter the incoming data in order to avoid alert fatigue, and they must be connected to an existing healthcare infrastructure. Additionally, security and communication standards must be prioritized in order to protect patient confidentiality.

The benefits

There are any number of benefits associated with Remote Patient Monitoring, and as the spread of RPM continues, these benefits will become entrenched:

  • Improved patient compliance
  • Improved patient outcomes
  • Fewer hospital visits/stays
  • Enhanced post-hospital care
  • Improved medical staff efficiency
  • Cost savings/better use of resources

Many of these benefits are obvious; for example, virtual check-ins allow healthcare professionals to schedule far more appointments than if they had to drive from patient to patient. Additionally, more regular check-ins can be scheduled, allowing patients to ask questions and providers to ensure patients understand and carry out instructions regarding medication, therapy, etc. This is particularly important when it comes to remote locations where travel between patients means only a few visits can be scheduled each day.  RPMs also allow the involvement of not just the patient, but also their loved ones, who can help monitor both the care provided and that the patient is following instructions without disrupting their day with in-office visits.

Why cellular connectivity?

When it comes to Remote Patient Monitoring, your IoT solution needs to be reliable, flexible, and secure. There are a number of connectivity options to consider and while no option is necessarily bad, some are better suited to RPM than others.

Connecting remote medical devices is not always as straightforward as it sounds. Available internet access in a patient’s home is not a given, particularly when it comes to the elderly, and unreliable and insecure networks can be a problem. Cellular connectivity is ideally suited to RPM because it is not dependent on in-home internet availability. Additionally, with the right IoT provider, you will have the benefit of roaming, which means you will always be using the best available network, something that is crucial when working with mission-critical solutions. And since healthcare applications require very high availability, it might come in handy to have multiple providers to improve that availability. That’s where eSIM capabilities can come in handy, as you have primary and secondary CSP IMSIs.

Another factor to consider is having available the right connectivity management platform in order to manage what could be a large number of devices on a local, regional, national, or even global scale.

There are three things to consider when it comes to realizing the full connectivity potential of your RPM solution:

  1. The connectivity solution meets your requirements, including availability and security
  2. The SIM management platform is easy to use and offers you the support you need
  3. Real time visibility and management of your device connectivity

Security

And finally, when it comes to healthcare in any form, security and patient confidentiality are paramount.  Medical data is extremely sensitive, and it is important that it is kept secure when being handled, transferred, and read.

Because of the sensitivity of the data, every part of your IoT solution needs to be secure. It cannot be overstated how important it is to choose an IoT partner who is able to support the high level of security needed. Additionally, even the slightest hiccup could have major ramifications, so it is critical that your IoT provider is also able to provide a high-level of 24/7 support in order to swiftly mitigate any potential issues.

If you would like to learn more about how IoT can enable your healthcare solution, please get in touch.