Updated: Jan 19
Why (RPM) technology enables better care from practitioners and better outcomes for patients
Remote Patient Monitoring is changing the lives of both patients and their practitioners. Here’s why: traditionally, when a person feels unwell, the obvious thing to do is to go to the doctor. In the doctor’s office, the doctor will ask the patient about their complaint, examine them, and measure their vital signs. These checks will of course be accurate, but only for the exact time they are taken inside the doctor’s office.
The doctor may then prescribe a medication and send the patient home, telling them to come back in a few weeks if symptoms persist. If the doctor feels the patient needs further assistance, they may send the patient to the hospital, where once there, their vital signs may be monitored, and more tests and treatments may be required. In order for the patient to be discharged from the hospital, the staff will need to safely conclude that the patient’s vital signs no longer require consistent monitoring.
Essentially, the moment the patient steps out of the hospital, they are immediately out of the direct sphere of medical observation, or ‘off the doctor’s grid’. No one will be tracking daily vitals – temperature, oxygen saturation levels, blood pressure, pulse rate, etc., leaving the patient wide open to undetected (and preventable) future adverse health changes while in recovery, and subsequent return visits to the hospital.
Introduction to Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
RPM has been described by many different organizations. Among them: The US Government Accountability office, The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), The Institute for Health Policy and Leadership, to name but a few.
We believe that the best and most accurate way to describe it is:
“The real time digital capture and electronic transmission of vital health data from patient to healthcare provider, enabling continuous remote assessment, accurate data-based medical advice and instruction.”
Why is this revolutionary? Because RPM provides doctors with ‘eyes and ears’ once the patient leaves the healthcare facility, widening the continuum of care, mitigating risk, reducing adverse events and empowering the patient to take more control of their health. This way, patients have peace of mind that they are still within the range of care of their doctors, and healthcare facilities can reduce repeat costly visits. Everybody wins.
Remote patient monitoring has often been confused with telehealth monitoring though, but this is not entirely correct…
RPM, Telehealth, and the difference between them
It’s important to understand the difference between these two terms in order to fully understand RPM. Here’s a quick look at the differences between them:
Telehealth includes technologies such as telephones, faxes, email, and remote patient devices used to collect and transmit patient data for monitoring and interpretation. This is the umbrella term for all things remote monitoring.
Remote patient monitoring involves the specific use of a DEVICE for the ongoing real time interaction between providers and patients, remotely for reporting, collecting, transmission and evaluation of patent health data and vital sign data through electronic devices.
So, remote patient monitoring is a derivative of telehealth, but an individual component of it. This NEJM article can give you more in-depth insight into this matter.
What are Remote Patient Monitoring devices and why are they used?
There are several RPM devices available today on the market. Here’s a quick overview of the most common reasons RPM is used:
Blood pressure monitors - These are usually cuffs used on the patient’s arm and utilized to help improve hypertension management. Through RPM, providers can be notified when a blood pressure reading moves out of the patient's ideal range, evaluate the situation, and provide medical guidance on what to do to get the patient’s blood pressure under control. Notifications are traditionally sent after a 24-hour monitoring period. It's important to note that nearly half a million deaths in the United States included hypertension as a primary or contributing cause.
Heart Rate - There are a variety of RPM devices for managing cardiovascular disease (CVD) on the market currently. They include pacemakers, defibrillators, and loop recorders for remote monitoring and recording of heart stats, without the patient needing to attend a clinic. This is because with remote patient monitoring, significant improvement has been seen in patient outcomes. Reports show that the use of RPM devices in CVD can lead to reductions in blood pressure, predict heart failure (HF) decompensation, and detect arrhythmia early to enable faster interventions. With heart disease affecting about 121.5 million adults in the US alone and also being the leading cause of death for this population, RPM for patients with CVD can be viewed as a significant preventative step prior to a CVD diagnosis and, can help patients already suffering from CVD live healthier and longer lives, reducing both hospitalizations and mortality.
Saturation Levels - Blood saturation levels are usually checked to see how much oxygen your blood is carrying. People with Covid19 in particular, will have this test carried out. It is usually done via a pulse oximeter device and is a fast, simple way to garner vital information without using a needle to take a blood sample. Usually, a small clip is put on the end of the patient’s finger, toe, or earlobe. The device shines a light beam through the skin and estimates the oxygen level by measuring the percentage of blood that's carrying oxygen. The oxygen level (or oxygen saturation, SpO2) will then show on a display screen. These devices are most commonly used in doctors' offices and hospitals. They are also available for home use for remote patient monitoring in the case of Covid or other chronic conditions such as long-term heart or lung problems.
Now that we have understood what RPM is, let’s take a look into how it actually works.
Remote Patient Monitoring – How it works in practice
Implementing RPM is relatively simple and the practices and process for using it can be viewed in the following six steps:
The healthcare provider assesses the patient and determines their suitability for a remote patient monitoring program.
The healthcare provider offers RPM, receives patient permission, and orders or prescribes RPM to the patient.
The patient is provided with an RPM device to collect vitals and general health data. The device is electronically connected either via Bluetooth or cellular network.
The patient wears the device at home and data such as blood pressure, weight, glucose levels are continuously monitored and recorded.
The device transmits all the relevant data to the healthcare provider digitally and electronically.
The healthcare provider analyzes the received data and provides the patient with the relevant health and wellness guidance and instructions.
It’s important to note that in order to deliver such services, health care providers will need to choose a device for their practice, setup a patient intake program and internal process and receive training.
A good RPM provider will assist the healthcare facility with all of these processes, making them seamless and as easy to follow as possible. Good devices should be intuitive for patients to use and hassle free for maximum patient compliance.
Now that you see how simple RPM is to implement, you can only just imagine how helpful it was and still is, when applied to the current Covid 19 pandemic.
Why Remote Patient Monitoring is invaluable in the Covid 19 Pandemic
Under the dark cloud of the Covid 19 pandemic, Remote Patient Monitoring has proved to be literally a life saver, preventing hospital admissions and improving recovery from the virus, according to a Kaiser Permanente study.
In the event of such a mass global event, RPM enables providers to reduce stress on hospitals, minimize mass infection of other patients and health care providers, and keep a close eye on patients able to stay at home
The benefits of which, among others are:
Patient and doctor ability to monitor key vital signs and symptoms as they improve/ deteriorate
Developing symptom monitoring such as cough, shortness of breath
Real time decision making of whether the patient should stay home or go to the hospital.
A great use case of RPM is the Southern California Permanente Medical Group who studied 13,055 patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 and participated in an RPM program between April 13, 2020, and February 12, 2021.
The program required patients to enter daily symptoms through an mHealth app, which care providers could monitor at the hospital. The home monitoring kit included a pulse oximeter and thermometer and access to the RPM app. You can read more about this fascinating case here.
Choosing the right Remote Patient Monitoring
So, now that you know all about Remote Patient Monitoring, you may have some questions, such as – is it expensive and how should you go about choosing a vendor?
With regards to cost, the answer… depends.
Firstly, it’s important to note that RPM is considered to be extremely cost effective due its ability to increase savings and revenues for healthcare providers. With regards to capital and operational costs, it really depends on the system, and there really is no single straightforward answer to that, unless the practitioner knows exactly what their need are. In short, it’s advisable to take the time to research needs and solutions thoroughly.
With regards to choosing a vendor, practitioners and healthcare providers will want to make sure that they choose a vendor that can offer them all the services they need – not just the device. A good vendor will provide a fully comprehensive solution which will include a device, an application or software that’s intuitive and easy to work with and of course, support.
Biobeat – The next generation of Remote Patient Monitoring
Biobeat is a leading Remote Patient Monitoring provider. Our remote patient monitoring platform is the next generation of Health AI, measuring vital signs in real-time and using wireless, non-invasive medical-grade technology and Machine Learning in order to provide actionable insights on patient care.
Our platform includes everything healthcare providers and practitioners need to effectively and efficiently monitor their patients:
Provides an Early Warning Score with customized thresholds per patient and scenario. Identifies changes in vitals and alert on high-risk patients
Enables access to real-time patient data paired with AI capabilities to provide insights on trends and bring efficiency into the process of healthcare delivery
Optimizes all data collection, providing medical staff the required clinical data instantly
Empowers healthcare practitioners to adopt a data-driven approach to personalized medicine
With the Biobeat Remote Patient Monitoring platform, its simple to:
And, we offer both short-term and long-term remote patient monitoring solutions:
In addition to a fully comprehensive web management solution and ambulatory services for complete peace of mind:
Biobeat Unique Benefits
With Biobeat, healthcare practitioners can measure a diverse range of health parameters with just one device. That’s because we are able to collect millions of data-points per patient per day. This is enabled through our proprietary data collection tools, via either our wrist-monitor or chest-monitor. Both devices are based on our PPG sensor, which is developed in-house and patented globally.
Each of these devices is able to measure 13 vital signs, continuously, wirelessly and in real time:
Biobeat benefits are clear and far-reaching, benefiting patients, practictioners and healthcare facilities, saving time, improving health and wellbeing and significantly lowering costs.
For more information on Biobeat RPM technology, devices, applications, and systems and a live demo, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org