Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is on the rise along with other rapid developments in telemedicine. So why should we use it and how can it be optimised?
RPM is incredibly helpful in a number of ways. It allows regular reviews of unwell or high risk patients by a healthcare professional, without exposing them to any unnecessary infections or diseases which cold be rife in healthcare settings. It makes ‘white coat’ readings (spurious results induced by anxiety of a clinical setting) less likely. Some patients prefer to be treated at home and feel limited interactions keep the medicalisation of their symptoms to a minimum. Many staff enjoy having flexible working environments and hours, and achieve a noticeable reduction in their stress levels when a full physical waiting room becomes a quiet virtual one. It also reduces the amount of physical space and consultation rooms needed for staff members to work.
There are some limitations to RPM. If quantitative results such as vital signs need to be measured, the healthcare company will have a finite amount available to loan out. Once this number is reached it will be reliant on the ability of patients to purchase the relevant devices(s) if they are not prescribable, which could be considered discrimination in access to care if reasonable alternative methods are not identified. Technical glitches, particularly if they are prolonged or recurrent, will put off a large percentage of patients from using that software and possibly other forms of RPM. And, ultimately, some people will just never get on with the idea of interacting with technology rather than a person.
So how do we make RPM a success? Start by following these simple steps:
Ensure staff have been fully trained to use the software and to troubleshoot common issues.
Make it user-friendly with large print, automated audio connection, and language options.
Ensure security regulations are adhered to and all data is kept securely.
Undertake research into which conditions and patient populations which have been found most likely to engage with and benefit from RPM.
Design a classification system based on diseases and severity to ensure appropriate monitoring and interaction frequency.
Book frequent interactions with same professional if possible.
Don’t assume certain groups won’t be interested! Many elderly patients are tech-savvy and would appreciate the option of RPM.
RPM is already a huge asset to clinical practice worldwide, both by increasing access to healthcare and providing frequent personalised reviews. The possibilities for future expansion in this field are currently immeasurable.