Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) For Patients: Benefits, Challenges, And Applications
If you dread walking into a clinic, you should know that you are not alone. Society sees going to the physician as something that’s only done in case of extreme necessities. Hence, it is not surprising to see tech-savvy specialists trying to come up with new healthcare technology that reduces the number of in-person visits.
Traditional healthcare requires the patient to visit a healthcare facility or consult a physician in person for all health-related issues. This process is time-consuming in terms of appointments, transportation, etc. While healthcare never compromises patient care in any way, delays are still inevitable. But thanks to Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) in healthcare, this is going to change significantly.
What Is Remote Patient Monitoring?
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is a telehealth modality that helps deliver healthcare remotely by leveraging the latest advancements in technology.
In a typical RPM setup, specific devices such as online portals and wearable devices are used to collect patient-generated data remotely. Though the devices used in RPM are similar to smartphones and tabs, they are specifically built to gather data and transfer the information to a facility or physician. The physicians will then use this information to assess your condition and advise the next action, medication, and care. Sometimes, RPM monitors can also be used to set reminders about medication, diet, sleep, workouts, or even instructions to deal with anxiety.
The four major parts of RPM technology are as listed below.
- Input Devices – Sensors or other devices that remain with you to collect specific data related to your health conditions. You can either enter the data manually or the sensors will automatically feed them into the device.
- Local Data Storage – A depository where all the patient-related data is stored throughout a given treatment cycle and from where specific information can be extracted whenever required.
- Diagnostic Application – The application used in the patient’s device for certain health issues like heart-related illnesses.
- Network – It connects your input device with the EHR system to establish a stable patient-physician communication.
- Central Repository – The patient-data is stored in EHR systems maintained by the healthcare organizations which could either be formed by one or more data repositories. The data stored can be used by medical practitioners to diagnose and treat the patient’s medical condition.
Benefits Of RPM
- Improves Patients’ Lifestyle – RPM significantly improves your quality of life by helping you spend more time with your families than in hospitals. A monitoring device also helps you stay aware of any critical health deterioration and when you should seek emergency medical attention.
- Makes Healthcare More Available – When many people can’t afford to visit a physician, RPM brings remote consultations to your homes. This makes healthcare organizations less crowded and more available to patients, especially patients who need emergency help.
- Helps Save Money – Thanks to RPM making healthcare available remotely, it cuts down the necessity to go to a clinic for prescription or test results, thereby reducing travel effort and lead time.
Challenges In RPM Usage
- Not Accessible To Everyone – RPM requires good broadband connectivity which is hard to achieve in rural areas. Furthermore, not everyone owns a smartphone, and the elderly always have trouble working with modern gadgets.
- The Need For Custom Healthcare Software – Multiple third-party applications are required to redirect the collected data from RPM devices to Electronic Medical Record Systems (EMRs).
- Low Reliability – Often, popular fitness wearable devices appear to have huge variations in accuracy with error margins reaching up to 25 percent. This calls the reliability of RPM data into question.
Remote Patient Monitoring systems are of great help as they enable you to live your life to the fullest while helping you afford constant medical attention. RPM devices push the need for visiting a physician in-person to only the most deserving cases. Hence the healthcare facilities remain less overcrowded, making ample opportunity for patients to get emergency help.
Nevertheless, remote access capabilities make RPM unavailable to many people. Additionally, physicians have to put in extra efforts to keep the patients engaged and motivate them to use RPM. Though the challenges are many, it won’t be long when RPM becomes an effective healthcare solution used by many.