August 30, 2016

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Averting Health Crises:The Rise of Remote Patient Monitoring

Healthcare systems across the world are realizing the benefits of leveraging remote monitoring technology to help support large populations suffering from chronic health conditions. According to a survey by the Spyglass Consulting Group, approximately 66% of healthcare organizations in the US have already deployed remote patient monitoring (RPM) programs and over 80% used mobile devices, primarily tablets, to support chronically-ill patients recently discharged from the hospital.

RPM is fast becoming a critical element of patient engagement and has enabled providers to reinforce their existing care coordination programs, advance patient self-management, enable personalized care in the comfort of one’s home, and deliver real-time diagnostic data facilitating informed collaboration.

Key Drivers Prompting RPM Adoption

The global market for RPM systems is slated to hit the USD 24,762 million mark by 2020. Some of the key reasons promoting such large-scale adoption are:

  • An aging population, susceptible to chronic illnesses, requiring timely diagnosis, continuous monitoring, and prompt treatment
  • A shift towards a value-based, disease-specific payment model to offset rising hospital-based treatment costs
  • A need to cut down on instances of hospitalization or readmission
  • The staggering proliferation of IoT-driven devices

RPM impacts the entire care continuum: it empowers providers and payers by improving care quality and outcomes, lowers instances of hospitalizations, arrests treatment costs, and delivers greater patient satisfaction. Unsurprisingly, as the fee-for-performance payment model gains traction across the industry, there has been a massive surge of interest in RPM platforms, mobile RPM solutions, and healthcare wearables.

Fostering Patient Engagement: A Case for RPM

The US federal government continues to emphasize on the criticality of patient engagement through adherence to ‘meaningful use’ requirements under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. As a result, healthcare providers are looking at cultivating robust patient engagement protocols that would enhance consumer access to medical data. With patient participation being widely encouraged—providers are adopting RPM solutions that ensure constant communication with the patient, enable access to relevant conditions-related information, and help connect with a larger group of individuals with similar health conditions.

For instance, a heart failure telemonitoring program, launched in 2003 in Boston, saw a 50 percent drop in all-cause readmissions and had a significant positive effect on patient mortality—prompting the provider to launch similar programs to address diabetes and hypertension.

At a deeper level, a robust RPM system would deliver quality healthcare services to more people, optimize the use of resources/services/infrastructure available, and widen the reach of healthcare systems beyond clinics and hospitals.

Consider, for instance, wearable biosensors (WBS)—immunosensors, optrodes, biochips, and glucometers to name a few—that allow constant monitoring of physiological signals, aiding in timely diagnosis and treatment. 84% of providers who have already adopted RPM platforms are now leveraging smart hand-held mobile devices to mete out care to chronically ill patients who are unable to foot escalating hospitalization charges or require close monitoring or follow-up after being discharged. Providers have already harnessed the potential of wearable technology—smartwatches, for instance—to support chronically-ill patients.

The Problem of Plenty: Building RPM Capabilities

RPM faces certain significant challenges: older patients might be unwilling to adopt RPM, there is a critical lack of standardization among the variety of devices present in the market, and the organization’s IT infrastructure might be incapable of integrating the devices with the e-records.

Providers need access to Big Data analytics and predictive intelligence capabilities to capture value from this exponential data volume. To ensure sustainable growth, providers must look at harnessing a connected ecosystem enabling data storage, cleansing, and automated analysis—which demands investment in equipment, data transfer, and response to incoming data. The ingested data needs to be filtered to ensure that it does not overwhelm physician workflow and information handling. Moreover, the data transmitted via devices and applications must be in a format that would help providers glean insights, and this information needs to be sent back to the patient as actionable knowledge.

Partnering with an experienced and reliable technology services provider might be the best way forward to ensure that providers recoup the costs involved in hosting the monitoring devices, while driving improved financial, operational and clinical outcomes.