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Remote Patient Monitoring Systems

Remote Patient Monitoring Systems

We strongly believe the future of healthcare depends on the impact of technological progress. So, the most significant investment today is focusing on the important areas of life. Especially, when recent worldwide changes emphasize the importance of transformations in the healthcare industry. 

Obviously, this is one reason why the growing interest in the adoption of remote patient monitoring systems is currently accelerating. It is absolutely justified by the number of benefits it can deliver to both hospitals and patients. The constant flow of health data strengthens the ties between patients, healthcare providers, and the delivery systems. As a result, new advanced services create new opportunities for those who deal with healthcare facilities.

So, let’s talk this through together.      

What is Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) 

Unlike traditional clinical settings, remote patient monitoring (RPM) systems allow the remote monitoring of a patient’s condition and the instant transmission of vital information between patients and medical providers to create treatment plans and improve the quality of care delivery. Multiple practices and smart devices are the primary components of medical delivery systems. 

The home health monitoring system is known to be one part of the broader telehealth industry. However, there is a certain distinction between these two terms. Click here to find out more. 

Anyway, electronic collection of health data in real-time extends the clinicians' ability to make a precise assessment of health status, create treatment plans and make recommendations. This way, medical providers are fully informed of the latest changes in a patient's condition, even after the patient has been discharged. On the patient’s side, this technology encourages them to become more involved in their health monitoring as well.   

The first targeted categories of patients are those who have limited access to different healthcare facilities, post-operative patients, and those suffering from chronic diseases. As a result, the data generated by medical monitoring equipment is analyzed and stored to make it possible for clinicians to retrieve it anytime. By sending alerts, this system can serve as a confirmation of a patient’s current health state. Both patients and healthcare professionals can be assured that they don’t have any health risks. That’s why this form of telehealth is a more effective way to prevent patient health risks and reduce wasteful health care costs.  

RPM Trends & Statistics

As you can imagine, recent RPM usage trends are steadily increasing in the area of healthcare and virtual delivery services. The starting point was the urgent need to look for alternatives after the coronavirus changed the way people perceive health care delivery. Here, the opportunities of remote infection sign tracking, reducing emergency room visits, the number of hospitalizations, and the length of stay at the hospital were more relevant than ever. 

Even before the sudden pandemic hit, the significance of RPM system adoption was growing for many reasons. 

According to the latest statistics for adopted RPM programs, the positive health outcomes include; improved medication compliance and patient satisfaction, a decrease in readmissions and emergency room visits, and the cutting of financial costs. You can see this point by considering the example of The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where the number of readmissions was reduced by 76% and patient satisfaction scored over 90%. The patient monitoring equipment helped patients to reduce their level of anxiety as well.

Besides, as the KLAS Research report states, after the adoption of RPM programs, costs were reduced by 17% and readmissions by 38% were reached across 25 healthcare organizations.

Indisputably, the future trend of RPM technologies will be more focused on making devices smaller and less invasive. Today, the market share of this technology is expanding more and more along with new players. 

Difference Between Telehealth and RPM

To avoid possible misunderstandings in common definitions, it is important to understand that RPM is a form or subset of telehealth. RPM is not a part of telemedicine, just a new subset of telehealth. To represent it correctly, look at the picture below. 

So, as you can see, the RPM system differs from the telehealth concept in several important ways. 

Firstly, there are different coding and billing purposes. Unlike numerous Medicare telehealth services codes, RPM covers only four CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) codes, CPT 99453, CPT 99454, CPT 99457, and CPT 99458. These medical codes are used among physicians, insurance companies, and accreditation organizations to report medical, surgical, and diagnostic procedures and services. 

Secondly, telehealth means the broader use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support long-term clinical care, public health, health administration, professional and patient health-related education. 

In contrast, remote patient monitoring is the use of a simple device for health data exchange and interaction between providers and patients. 

These basic differences are important to avoid any confusion while developing RPM systems.       

How Does the RPM System Work

 

In addition to understanding the differences in eHealth definitions, we need to understand how each technology works. Let’s move on to the main areas, explaining the specifics of how a typical RPM system works step by step:

  1. RPM services do not require interactive meetings or virtual visits. This system works using one device that is embedded with technology that can collect and interpret physiologic data.

  2. A care provider sets up RPM services to patients by launching the program on a device. It allows the monitoring of a wide range of patient health data and managing this information remotely. 

  3. After determining what specific patient health data it is necessary to monitor to improve patient health, the provider can prescribe an RPM that will capture the required physiologic data. 

  4. Once a patient is provided with a specific piece of medical monitoring equipment, it is necessary to ensure they are remotely connected via cellular networks or Bluetooth. The most common remote monitoring devices are weighing scales, blood glucose meters, spirometers, and blood pressure monitors.

  5. After a successful device setup, the system starts capturing specific health data and transmits it wirelessly to the care provider. The information they collect can be the level of blood oxygen, heart rate, weight, blood sugar and pressure and even electrocardiograms.

  6. Based on the obtained data results, providers can formulate a treatment, send daily or even hourly recommendations or provide health guidance to patients.

Also, some additional steps are not included in the above list. 

Before providing RPM services, providers should develop policies and procedures, determine patient coverage, and establish a patient database. Depending on the RPM program vendor, providers need to complete a certain number of setup steps. Likewise, it is necessary to provide patients with training, due to the complexity of devices and their specific use.            

Benefits of RPM

In this section, let us introduce the important benefits of home health monitoring technology. Both patients and healthcare providers receive substantial value using this method of healthcare delivery.

Value for Hospitals

  1. The efficiency of connected healthcare;

The first obvious advantage in a hospital setting is the efficiency they get by applying smart technologies. Every medical practitioner understands the value of effective illness prevention. It helps to reduce the number of visits by the remote monitoring of a patient’s condition with RPM systems. The constant monitoring of a health condition makes it possible to quickly assess and manage, thus preventing a possible crisis. As a result, hospitals can save on in-house resources.   

  1. Lowering care delivery costs; 

Associated treatment costs will indeed be lower if comparing the expense of physical patient visits to remote monitoring and management. Hospital annual savings will be achieved by the reduced number of readmissions or emergency room visits.

  1. Lower shortage of medical workers;

The growing demand for healthcare services can also be reduced with remote patient monitoring. Even with a medical practitioner shortage, patients can have the opportunity to monitor their health status and have fewer worries. In turn, these practitioners can focus on treating patients with more severe conditions. As a result, there will be less of a shortage of health workers in hospitals.

  1. The safest way of care delivery.

In the case of the most vulnerable patient situations, practitioners will be able to provide them safe and quick help even when patients are in rural areas. Safety and efficiency will be guaranteed for both sides.      

Value for Patients

  1. Improved care quality;

Due to the ability to permanently monitor a patient’s health status, the resulting medical prescriptions, recommendations, and treatment plans will be more accurate and holistic.  

  1. Self-monitoring of health status;

This way, patients can better understand the changes in their health at any time. It can result in changing a patient's daily lifestyle that may eventually improve their health.

  1. Fewer practitioner office visits;

By reducing the number of inpatient and outpatient hospital visits, patients will be less exposed to other illnesses, (a significant percentage of people caught the coronavirus whilst in hospital)  and save time and money on costly trips. 

  1. Better support and access to healthcare teams.

Since remote monitoring devices generate a lot of health data all the time, healthcare teams can contact patients anytime and reduce stress. Caregivers can offer their patients 24/7 support and education.   

Key Components of RPM systems

In common practice, the key components of RPM systems are similar to the structure of the IoT system. As you can see in the picture, standard RPM consists of four main components: 

 

RPM Devices

By analyzing a wide range of possible remote monitoring devices, there can be sensors implanted under the skin or wearable smart devices. Until now, the most dominant are wireless and noninvasive tools that can measure common physiological parameters like heart rate, blood pressure, etc. 

The most popular devices used in RPM systems are electronic thermometers, electroencephalography (EEGs), electrocardiographs (ECGs), cardiac monitors, oximeters, blood pressure monitors, and breathing frequency monitors. 

Next, with the help of a mobile app, this data is transmitted for further assessment by the care provider. From a technology standpoint, the most common is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) that allows successful transmission from remote monitoring devices to smartphones. 

Mobile App for Patients

Patient-side mobile application is an integral part of remote monitoring in healthcare. Devices collect information from various sensors and transmit this data to doctors. Usually, these apps are user-friendly and contain visualizations, interactive tools, medical reminders for simple patient usage, and accurate information exchange. Also, these apps should meet such criteria as:

  • BLE support;

  • Compliance with safety standards for medical software development;

  • Compliance with health information protection; 

  • Safeguard against connectivity issues;

  • Secure API integration with a care provider’s system.

Web-Side App for Hospitals

Like mobile apps for patients, hospital web-side apps should also strictly comply with local standards and rules. Also, the RPM web solution should be integrated via an API to exchange information with a hospital’s electronic medical records (EMR) system. This way, the system will avoid data silos.

Typically, the standard web-based solution for hospitals is divided into four modules: decision-support, report, notification, and analytics. The first is needed to compare the values ​​of the obtained patient data with those established by the doctors. The second module is in charge of formulating reports and sending them to the healthcare team. The notification module supports an alert system and, when triggered, generates warning messages for doctors. The analytics module visualizes real-time measurements to show trends and predicts risk events.  

However, there are use cases where monitoring is conducted through simple questionnaires and connected devices are not required. So, such a remote patient monitoring system will consist of a simpler set of components.   

Cloud Repository

Mobile apps for patients receive the raw data generated from connected remote monitoring devices. After that, this data is sent to the cloud repository. But, in case of direct-to-cloud connectivity, this data can be transferred directly to the cloud without the need for a web app. 

Types of Remote Patient Monitoring Devices

As we’ve already mentioned, today, there are some types of remote patient monitoring devices that are the most widely used. By reviewing information on types of home health monitoring devices, it will be easier to choose specific ones that best fit hospital practice and increase revenue potential. Take a look at the most popular ones:

  • Blood pressure monitor

Cardiac monitoring is vital to reduce a majority of illnesses related to disorders of the cardiovascular system. Remote blood pressure monitors are represented as cuffs that squeeze a patients’ wrist to measure heart rate and blood flow. By constantly monitoring the changes of blood motion in the arteries, it is possible to prevent many widespread diseases and get the most accurate blood pressure readings.    

  • Weight monitor

Remote weight monitoring is used to measure weight for different purposes. Extra weight gain can indicate different emerging conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and obesity-related illnesses. Sudden weight loss is also possible to identify quickly with ongoing RPM services. This way, practitioners will have an opportunity to take action in advance to prevent specific conditions from worsening.     

  • Heart rate monitors

Heart rate monitors are commonly used to calculate the number of heartbeats per minute. Usually, people use wearable devices to monitor the heartbeat data to understand how the heart is functioning. This way, clinicians can detect risky signs and find solutions to prevent them effectively. 

  • Continuous glucose monitor

People with diabetes are obligated to measure blood sugar levels regularly. In addition, continuous glucose monitors can help keep track of how medication, diet, exercise, or stress affect the level of sugar in the blood.

 

Remote Patient Monitoring Use Cases

The efficiency of RPM programs depends on unique use cases. Many early adopters benefit from the positive outcomes these systems offer. By considering some practical cases of RPM adoption, you will better understand how remote patient care monitoring works.

Post-operative cardiac monitoring in UCLA Health:

Four hospitals are ranked number four in the USA, famous for being the best healthcare providers in California. Its cardiac telehealth program is known for being one of the most successful cases of RPM adoption. 

Existing post-surgical complications often pose a real risk to the lives of patients upon discharge. Thus, a hospital team decided to use a modern approach to reduce the number of negative reactions from medications, dehydration, early signs of pneumonia, and others. A typical patient kit includes a scale, blood pressure, heart rate monitor, pulse oximeter, and a tablet. With the patient care monitoring program, medical specialists are notified of early signs of potential health problems. As a result, this program reports a significant decrease in the number of readmissions and possible complications.    

Mayo Clinic:

This medical center has been supporting RPM for chronic care patients for almost five years. After the pandemic hit, the organization started to offer its remote services to coronavirus sufferers. Similar to UCLA health hospitals, Mayo’s basic kit for patients consists of a scale, electronic thermometer, pulse oximeter, and a tablet. 

Real-time patient health data is submitted to doctors daily. This allows them to intervene in the patient's treatment plan when required. The oxygenation parameter is measured by a pulse oximeter to detect suspicious changes. This way, the system helps to reduce readmissions and hospital stays. 

Children's health: 

One of the first pediatric hospitals in the USA that launched the RPM program in 2015 was Children's health. 

Сhildren with complex conditions or those requiring organ transplants demand specific after-surgery treatment. So, with the help of Samsung Galaxy tablets and the Vivify Health Remote Care platform, hospitals provide remote care to these children. Doctors can monitor vital signs, manage medication intake with the help of special wireless patches, conduct virtual visits and even educate patients. As a result, the post-operative process with RPM became more balanced, and the risk of complications decreased.    

Best Technologies for RPM Systems

Among different technologies for RPM systems, it is essential to assess the potential challenges and choose the one that best addresses the existing health care gaps.

Multiple devices for remote patient monitoring are powered by specific technologies. Perhaps, when choosing a particular technology, data security issues along with understanding how the devices work are the most important questions to ask.

Typically, the transfer of confidential data from the patient to the practitioner device is possible via Cellular or Bluetooth technology. Both of them have their advantages and limitations. The first major difference between these technologies relates to the network applied. In the case of cellular data transmission, the patient's medical data is collected and transmitted over the same networks used by smartphones. In contrast, Bluetooth technology works when connecting wirelessly to devices and the Internet over a short distance.

Let’s briefly highlight the other benefits and limitations of Bluetooth and Cellular technologies.

  • Bluetooth technology:

 

 Benefits

 Limitations

  1. Patients only share their health data if they have a Bluetooth enabled device and an Internet connection;  

1. Possible security risks;

  1. A wider range of devices with Bluetooth support;

2. Two-way communication is not provided;

  1. Usage of patient's own smartphones they are already used to;

3. Multiple connection requirements;

  1. Cost-effectiveness;

4. Late transmission of data is possible because the Internet connection is not always reliable.

  1. Convenient interaction with Bluetooth devices.

 

 

  • Cellular technology:     

 

 Benefits

 Limitations

  1. Health data transmission from anywhere the cellular network can reach;

1. Unstable connection to cellular networks, since some areas are unavailable for its services; 

  1. Ability to record and transmit patient health data immediately;

2. Relatively high cost associated with device components;

  1. Possibility of two-way communication of some of the RPM devices between healthcare team and patient; 

3. Possible cellular network outages. 

  1. Simple and comfortable usage of Cellular RPM devices for all patients.

 

  

As you see, both technologies offer different options. By considering safety issues, RPM cellular devices are faster, and reliable internet access is not required. The simplicity in setup and usage is crucial when patients are not comfortable with new technologies. 

In contrast, Bluetooth devices offer many benefits to patients who are tech-savvy.

Anyway, the final choice of home health monitoring technology will depend on the practical application of your particular case.  

How Much Does It Cost to Develop RPM?

The seamless and profitable implementation of remote monitoring in healthcare can be an expensive choice. This is due to the complexity of platform development, patient monitoring equipment setup, ongoing maintenance, and support. Here, compliance with HIPAA and different regulations is the second part that can exceed financial capacities. Probably, this is the primary reason why the majority of hospitals prefer buying a ready-to-use RPM solution. 

Don't hesitate to get a more accurate estimate from us and ask your questions. Just let us know!    

Conclusion

By assessing the impact of technology on improving patient's health, you can become a valuable part of the digital transformation in the global healthcare industry. The biggest change often associated with RPM is profitability, equal care, and health-friendly scenarios. The ability to exchange information in real-time from anywhere where patients are located can be a real lifesaver. Just imagine how many risks could have been prevented. That’s why the importance of your contribution to the development of home health monitoring technologies goes beyond market competition. 

To add, connected healthcare drives more transparency and creates more trust in the doctor-patient relationship. Knowledge is the power that enables the patient and the doctor to act in less stressful situations and achieve better results. The bright future for e-health is already here.

 

FAQ

Remote patient monitoring or (RPM) is known as a form of the telemedicine industry. It is a method that uses technology to monitor, analyze and store vital health data. It also allows remote interaction between care provider and patient and data exchange within a single healthcare delivery system.

The implementation of a machine condition monitoring system does not require big investments. We are ready to build affordable solutions for your industry. Feel free to contact us to know more.

A factory equipment condition monitoring system is an intelligent solution for improving overall production productivity. This system includes regular maintenance cycles during which your factory can significantly decrease costly shutdowns and parts inventories, schedule repairs timely, and improve overall equipment performance.

Want to create your own IoT solution?

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16331.08.2021
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