With an aging population and an increasing number of chronically ill patients, maintaining high-quality care while reducing costs has become more difficult. However, patient engagement, which involves using intermittent and continuous measurements to monitor disease progression, management, and recovery, is helping healthcare become increasingly patient-centric.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is revolutionizing the healthcare industry as it minimizes hospital visits and reduces patient waiting time. In the past few years, RPM has witnessed an increase in demand due to the constantly growing penetration of the internet and the rise of advanced technologies.
In this blog, we explore some of the key factors driving RPM’s growth and the role that technology plays in supporting these changes.
What Is Driving the Growth
The Rising Aging Population
Life expectancy is rising—now exceeding 60 years of age for the first time in history. This immense demographic change is a challenge for healthcare and social systems around the world.
Older people often suffer from hearing and vision problems, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, joint and bone pain, respiratory diseases (including COPD), hypertension, diabetes, depression, and dementia. Moreover, in this age group, the risk of having multiple chronic conditions is increased. Unfortunately, this often results in exclusion from social life or a significant reduction of independence.
Remote monitoring provides a system of long-term care for seniors, increasing their safety, restoring independence, and allowing greater participation in social life. Constant observation of vital signs enables trends and changes to be observed so that treatment can be optimized.
Increase in The Occurrence of Chronic Diseases
Noncommunicable diseases, including chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart failure, and COPD, cause 71% of all deaths worldwide. They kill 41 million people a year, including 15 million between 30 and 69 years of age. The most dangerous are cardiovascular diseases (coronary heart disease and stroke), taking an estimated 17.9 lives every year. COPD is almost twice as deadly as lung, tracheal, and bronchial cancers.
Regular assessment of vital signs is essential for evaluating the results of chronic disease treatment. Remote monitoring is a great tool to manage this group of patients, allowing quick responses and improving communication and health education. It also increases the patients’ involvement and self-awareness in their own treatment, which is equally important for maximizing therapeutic interventions.
Significant Increase in Obesity and Related Diseases
Worldwide, the number of obese people has almost tripled since 1975. Currently, more people die from complications of being overweight than from malnourishment. Among diseases that directly result from being overweight are diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, arthrosis, sleep apnea, breast and colorectal cancer, and quite a few others are implicated.
Remote monitoring of obese patients is one of many solutions in the management of this growing problem. Providing medical care for obese patients generates many costs—it requires special ambulances, hospital beds, equipment such as scales, wheelchairs, tubs, and even MRI and other imaging devices. Overweight and obese patients require holistic support and regular visits to appropriately manage their conditions. Remote monitoring provides all of this while reducing general care costs.
Now that we have discussed factors driving RPM’s growth, let’s delve into how technology is essential to its success.
How Technology will Impact Remote Patient Monitoring
The world is becoming progressively digitized. As the healthcare ecosystem evolves, remote patient monitoring will play a greater role in the growth of connected health, where data is collected, analyzed for insights, delivered back to key stakeholders, and then uniformly transferred to records. Systems will not just report numbers but will also support the user in evaluating the evidence and making prompt clinical decisions.
New technologies will emerge to meet the growth in behavioral and physiological sensing. The need for monitoring outside high-acuity settings will spur the development of devices that are compatible for everyday use. These aspects are explored in more detail below.
Predictive Insights and Trends
Monitoring can provide data and help identify trends, but it is ultimately up to clinical staff to decipher these within the context of the patient’s overall health and determine the appropriate treatment plan. Patterns heralding the onset of critical illness, however, can be extremely complicated and take years of training and experience to understand.
Technologies that will empower the progression of clinical decision support (CDS) and closed control systems include data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). AI techniques being developed can help create more balanced datasets for use during algorithm development. AI will be important for the recognition of these technologies by regulatory bodies, as there may be notable resistance to handing control over to a black box that draws conclusions without furnishing an underlying rationale.
The Emergence of New Modalities
Clinical decision making is based on an all-inclusive view of the patient. The patient is not managed using just a single variable. New monitoring methods will give a more all-encompassing picture of the patient, both in terms of new quantities measured and the ability to monitor metrics that are currently available only as point measurements.
Continuous monitoring can identify a critical value more expeditiously than an intermittent approach and detect an underlying trend at an earlier stage. Direct, regular monitoring of gold standard markers, such as required blood test values, may not be particularly feasible. In some cases, measurement of interrelated biometrics is suitable. For example, measuring and monitoring markers of chronic stress throughout a clinical trial can optimize clinical and commercial success.
Facilitating non-contacting and noninvasive technologies is likely to be key. AI is also going to play an important role in the development of monitoring solutions based on biomarker correlations.
Electronic healthcare records (EHRs), which were introduced in the 1960s, were intended to collate a patient’s health data in a repository, providing doctors with a comprehensive clinical picture for effective care coordination. However, due to the lack of mandatory interoperability standards, each EHR provider created and maintained their own data silo, usually on-premises and accessible only to the hospital or department-specific practitioners enrolled in that program and completely inaccessible to others.
The new FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) standards were developed by Health Level Seven International (HL7), a healthcare standards organization, to encourage interoperability between legacy healthcare systems. Many EHR vendors have developer programs that employ FHIR and open APIs to allow third parties to write software that uses their EHRs. Note that the 21st Century Cures Act necessitates certified EHRs to have open APIs.
The stage is set for significant advances in health information exchange that will allow RPM solutions to be fully integrated into the patient health record. However, technology hurdles are not the only obstacles. A cultural shift is required by practitioners, industry leaders, and patients alike when it comes to data transparency, sharing, and security.
The Road Ahead
Patient care will be transformed in the next 10 to 15 years, and new types of products, solutions, and technologies will emerge. In this environment, RPM will play a significant role in facilitating the evolution of the healthcare landscape.
RPM is seen as a fundamental enabler of the virtual care relationship with both patients and providers trying to decrease in-person care due to pandemic-related risks. Innovaccer’s Remote Patient Monitoring Solution, based on an FHIR-enabled Data Activation Platform, helps providers effectively manage workflows and integrate actionable insights into the care protocols, making care delivery more patient-centric and future-ready.Book a demo for Innovaccer’s FHIR-enabled Data Activation Platform to find out how it can help improve care delivery.