Healthcare Technology Featured Article

August 11, 2021

9 Ways IoMT Is Revolutionizing Remote Patient Monitoring




Treatment to a disease or a concern is just 50% of the process in healthcare. How the body reacts to the treatment, the recovery phase and patient care is the more crucial 50%. Unfortunately, a major chunk of the population doesn’t have the right tools or services to check their progress or recovery on a daily basis. There’s no number-driven visualization that can actually tell if the medications or surgeries are working. 

It’s all abstract and intangible that persists until symptoms reduce or are no longer felt. However, that’s changing gradually with the onset of RPM. 

What is it you’re asking?

Well, this is what we are going to explore in detail in this exclusive post. 

Let’s get started. 

What Is RPM?

Abbreviated as Remote Patient Monitoring, these are solutions in the form of wearable technology and applications that work on monitoring patient health post surgery or treatment and report on progress or deterioration of underlying conditions. 

These devices can sense, collect and process data from multiple touch points in the human body and share crucial pieces of information on patient health. Remote patient monitoring empowers patients and their kith and kin on resourceful information on their wellbeing. It engages patients better and lets them take ownership of their health and its recovery. 

Most patients are left in the void after their treatments and remote patient monitoring solutions offer adequate knowledge on how their prescribed medications, physiotherapy sessions or just bed rest could help in their body’s recovery. 

RPM solutions have the ability to connect directly with a patient's clinic so any alarming conditions could be instantly shared with their doctors for immediate consultation. These solutions help keep unnecessary post-surgery anxiety and stress at bay and offer data-driven information to put things in perspective on patient health. 

How Different Is RPM From Telehealth?

While it’s true that both require sophisticated technology and perpetual internet connectivity to serve intended purposes, both have subtle and intricate differences. These minor changes in approaches make them often interchangeable. 

To clear the air, telehealth is a broad, umbrella term that involves the use of the latest technologies to provide healthcare. Provide healthcare being the key here. In telehealth, patients can get online or virtual consultations, use technology and its devices to share reports, EHR, e-prescriptions and more and do more on their health. 

Remote patient monitoring, on the other hand, is a subset or a derivative of telehealth,  enabled by internet of things solutions where technology is used as a medium to study patient health and the effect of treatments or surgeries in real time. The major difference between the two is that the role of an RPM starts only after a patient is discharged while telehealth has a role to play ever since the first onset of a particular symptom. 

How Does RPM Work?

Now that you have a fundamental idea of what remote patient monitoring is all about, let’s dive in a little deeper and understand how it works. 
 

  1. The first step is the identification of the condition that requires prescription or recommendation of RPM modules. Physicians and doctors assess if the condition could be managed remotely with the available tech. If yes, they determine the vitals they need to collect for airtight monitoring. 
  1. Next is the assessment of the benefits of remote monitoring. Simultaneously, providers also assess the multiple health datasets that could be sensed and collected through RPM devices for better service delivery.
  1. As the third step, the patient is explained about RPM solutions and what happens with it. With their consent, they are provided with a solution that either works on Bluetooth or internet technology. 
  1. The device is set up and checked if the required vitals are being recorded accurately in real time. 
  1. Data from the solution is analyzed and adequate care and support is given to the patient whenever needed. 

While this appears straightforward, there are several layers of protocols and standards physicians and providers need to follow while collecting patient data. 

Real World Applications Of RPM

You would have a complete understanding of what RPM solutions are when you get to know some of its prominent real world applications. Let’s look at what they are. 

Blood Pressure Monitor

Blood pressure is one of the fundamental vitals doctors assess to eliminate or confirm underlying conditions. In the RPM space, these monitors are smaller versions of their medical counterparts, where they conveniently wrap around your arm and squeeze it to assess heart rate and blood flow. 

These monitors take multiple readings in a day to arrive at a daily average. Thanks to this, early symptoms of diabetes and even kidney dysfunction could be detected in advance, aiding in adequate diagnosis and care. 

Continuous Glucose Monitor

A report from 2019 revealed that close to 463mn adults around the world suffer from diabetes. This chronic condition, where no cure has surfaced until now, requires continous monitoring and care to limit or prevent its consequences. In such cases, commercial glucose monitors help patients keep track of their blood sugar levels and make appropriate lifestyle and dietary changes. 

A regular glucose monitor gives insights on patients’ medication effects, impact of exercise and diet on diabetes treatment, influence of stress in shooting blood sugar levels, progress towards set health goals and more. 

Anticoagulation Testing Device

Similar to diabetes, patients who have artificial heart valves, atrial fibrillation or DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) are at a higher risk of developing thromboembolism. Anticoagulants could react to potassium-rich foods and even other medications they intake, leading to bleeding. 

Such patients require consistent testing and need to visit laboratories every alternate week for their tests. This constant need pushes people to fix appointments with labs, remember them, take permission from work, make arrangements for their child and do more. 

RPM solutions come in handy in instances like these, allowing patients to just draw a drop of blood for analysis. With devices offering results in a minute, they could share reports with their doctors and check with them on treatment procedures or medications. 

ECG Devices

Wearable ECG devices are life-savers, where they detect even the slightest of abnormalities or anomalies in the heart and directly communicate it with clinics or doctors for real-time treatment. Contemporary ECG devices have the ability to detect the symptoms of ST depression, arrhythmia, myocardial ischemia and more. Sportspersons and athletes also benefit from these devices, where training can be tailored based on an individual. 

Medication Monitoring

Like we mentioned, treatments are just part of the process. Real challenge lies in ensuring we take our medications at the right time and assist our body in recovering. Statistics also reveal that over 50% of the US citizens take one form of medication. Moreover, close to 60% of the adults fail to take their medications on time. 

With medication monitoring devices, patients can be reminded or alerted to take their pills on time. How? Modern pill dispensers connect patients and physicians through portals that allow them to get notifications on the medication they need to take and details on the dosage, ensuring patients never miss another pill prescribed to them. 

Clinical Grade Wearables

With the rise of concerns like stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and other chronic ailments, physicians and doctors are overworked with back to back appointments and consultations. They have too many reports to look into as well. 

With smart wearable technology, they can get an idea on patient history on a case basis. Wearable devices have a repository of health data that doctors can look at and arrive at inferences. This helps them deliver better diagnostic and healthcare services. 

Modern wearable devices track a lot of data - from heart rates and hydration levels to even stress and cardiac anomalies. Through extensive visualization, these devices ensure precise treatments or medications are provided on time. 

Smart Pills

Smart pills are revolutionary in the fact that they are sensors that can be swallowed. Capable of recording diverse measures, they can offer insights on whether a patient has taken a prescribed medication, the dosage and even the impact or effect of the prescribed drug. 

Wearables For Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation is inevitable for patients who have undergone joint replacement surgeries or treatments for stroke. This crucial phase influences the recovery process of patients and this is the time utmost care and attention need to be provided to them. 

Such patients either stay in a rehabilitation center or schedule everyday visits for sessions. That’s where wearable devices come into the picture. They collect important details from patient activity and communicate them to specialists and experts to monitor and track progress. Based on collected data, rehab experts suggest the continuation of the same treatment, recommend different methods or even certify them fit again. 

Benefits Of Remote Patient Monitoring

There are several benefits that RPM solutions offer to both patients and healthcare providers. From reducing clinic visits to fetching accurate and real-time health data of patients, remote patient monitoring is becoming an integral part of healthcare delivery systems. 

To give you a better idea of what other benefits are, here’s an extensive list:


 

  • They offer super-precise and extensive information on patient health.
  • Since data transmission happens in real-time access to healthcare during emergency situations is almost immediate. 
  • Puts back the responsibility of taking care of health onto the hands of patients through data and reports that are understandable by them. 
  • From a healthcare provider perspective, they optimize patient outcomes significantly. 

Wrapping Up

A statistic from AMA shared that 9 out of 10 healthcare providers invested in RPM technology. As of now, we are just scratching the surface of remote patient monitoring solutions and their capabilities. As more advanced solutions are integrated and more evolutions in IoMT development services happen, we could get to a stage where we could accurately predict the onset of a physical condition and even prevent it. 









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