what is remote patient monitoring?
Anyone who was ever hospitalized before knows what it’s like to lay in a bed with different cables attached to them. These cables would run into different machines that would beep, show numbers, and alert the staff if anything was out of place. The average patient didn’t know what these devices were, only that they served to help their caregivers get an accurate measurement of whatever it was they were looking for. But what if there was a way for all of this information to be transmitted electronically to healthcare providers using less sizeable and more personal equipment? Fortunately, telehealth’s advancement has brought patients and healthcare providers alike a system for remote monitoring appropriately named Remote Patient Monitoring.
What Is Remote Patient Monitoring?
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) follows the concept of different monitoring wires attached to a patient while in the hospital, except remotely. For example, instead of a large vitals cart getting wheeled around from room to room, a patient is sent home with a remote blood pressure monitor that transmits real-time data back to the healthcare professional so they can develop a treatment plan for the patient. Blood pressure is a great example, and an excellent argument, for remote patient monitoring. The problem with patients having their blood pressure checked during visits to their doctor is the possibility of white coat hypertension.
White coat hypertension gives an inaccurate one-time blood pressure reading because the patient’s anxiety causes an acute spike in blood pressure. However, many doctors believe white coat hypertension is a sign of long-term blood pressure issues. Unfortunately, before telehealth and remote patient monitoring, patients were able to go home, thinking they suffered from high blood pressure when, in fact, their blood pressure only spiked during the visit. Doctors will prescribe patients blood pressure medications that could potentially drop their blood pressure to dangerous levels or cause uncomfortable side effects.
Remote patient monitoring has made it possible for patients to take home a home monitoring device to check their blood pressure at any time of the day. Patients also keep a journal of what they were doing at different parts of the day, so the doctor knows if any spikes in blood pressure had legitimate explanations. This helps healthcare providers make a more accurate diagnosis when it comes to hypertension. It helps them see if the conditions are only temporary while in office or a persistent issue requiring medication intervention.
Remote Patient Monitoring Doesn’t Reduce The Demand For Healthcare Workers
Just because a patient is not physically in a hospital doesn’t mean there doesn’t need to be healthcare staff monitoring their needs. Remote patient monitoring isn’t just for blood pressure monitoring, either. Some monitoring devices help hospital staff ensure patients are taking their medications so healthcare providers can alert the patient through phone calls or other digital means to alert them for their compliance. Unfortunately, medication non-compliance is a trending issue that remote patient monitoring can help alleviate.
The constant monitoring of a patient’s vitals from their pulse oximeter to their blood pressure cuff help healthcare providers avoid unnecessary emergency room visits or readmissions. There’s no anxiety of not knowing about the daily status of one’s health when real-time data is always transmitted to the hospital. This helps many patients stay at home and make specific lifestyle changes that healthcare staff, from nurses to doctors, can help them make through education.
Remote Patient Monitoring Improves Quality Of Life
Patients who are disabled, older, or who live in remote areas benefit from remote patient monitoring to help improve their quality of life. Not only does remote patient monitoring reduce the chances of readmissions or emergency room visits, but it also helps patients reduce their medical costs. Staying home, in a nursing home, or other skilled nursing facilities helps reduce patient stress, which keeps their vitals more accurate for doctors when they’re making a diagnosis.
Remote patient monitoring has also been shown to effectively monitor the blood sugar of those who suffer from type 2 diabetes. It’s especially important to monitor blood sugar consistently to educate the patient to make any lifestyle medications and create custom programs for them to help control their blood sugar. Not only that, but diabetic patients put a lot of cost strain on their own pockets as well as the hospital. This relieves stress on the healthcare system as well as the patient.
The accuracy and effectiveness of remote patient monitoring allow for accurate vital readings for patients, cost-saving measures for patients and hospitals, and better quality of life for patients.