Five facts about remote patient monitoring

ACROSS all industries, COVID-19 has streamlined the digitisation of how we work — and healthcare was no exception.

Digital health includes a wide variety of services, one of which is remote patient monitoring (RPM). RPM is a technology used to monitor patients outside of the conventional doctors’ office. Patients can be monitored at home or in remote locations by devices that automatically send readings to their healthcare provider.

RPM was being used to treat patients well before COVID-19. However, the advantages of RPM have become more apparent due to the pandemic, and healthcare workers as well as patients should be aware of the available technology. The following are five facts about RPM and its usefulness.

1. RPM is an extension of telemedicine

We have, since the start of the pandemic, grown to associate telemedicine with remote consultations with our doctors via communication platforms, including via video calls. RPM is an extension to this, and it provides continuous monitoring of a patient without face-to-face communication with a doctor unless something goes wrong.

2. RPM is used to monitor chronic illnesses

When it comes to chronic illnesses, monitoring them through one doctor visit may be harmful to you as a patient. RPM allows your healthcare provider to monitor your illness in “normal” times. This can be done continuously or at specific times throughout the day. Medical devices such as glucometers, blood pressure cuffs and scales can provide your doctor with immediate readings over time. These readings then ensure that your diabetes or high blood pressure, for example, are accurately monitored and treated.

3. RPM may improve your quality of life and save you money

RPM can document trends for specific physiological (body) data, which means it can detect when there is an abnormal trend. Immediately detecting when something is wrong and being treated for it allows for a reduction in emergency room visits, hospitalisations and even the length of your hospital stays. This will then have a domino effect by not only saving you money from avoiding the hospital, but also improving your quality of life, especially if you are living with a chronic illness. With chronic illnesses spread across our population today, RPM would definitely contribute to a reduction in deaths from these illnesses.

4. RPM provides increased access to healthcare in rural and remote areas

If you live in a rural or remote area, taking a trip to the doctor or health clinic may be an entire day’s adventure. This may prove to be inconvenient, time-consuming and costly. RPM allows you to be monitored by your doctor without having to leave your home, wherever home may be. You will only need to have access to the technology required for these devices which could just be a cellphone connection or wireless Internet.

5. RPM provides a safe environment for both patient and doctor

The novel coronavirus pandemic has influenced us to be more cautious and protective of ourselves. Many people today feel unsafe going into doctors’ offices for fear of exposure to the virus. While staying home may be safe to protect us from the virus, it does not make our pre-existing conditions disappear.

RPM can limit going to the doctor every few months to monitor your illnesses. Instead, when combined with telemedicine, you can stay in the comfort of your home and only go to the doctor when there is an emergency. This also takes the pressure off of doctors, allowing them to only see emergent patients in their offices.

New technology is sometimes scary, especially if we don’t fully understand it. If you could benefit from the use of RPM telemedicine, ask your doctor for more information and how it may be used in your specific case. It might just be the thing that saves your life.

Dr Ch Bowen, a digital health entrepreneur and family physician, is the CEO & founder of MDLink, a digital health company that provides telemedicine options. Check out the company’s website at www.theMDLink.com. You can also contact him at drchebowen@themdlink.com.

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