2 Years Later: Pandemic Lessons About Remote Patient Monitoring
The COVID-19 pandemic caught almost everyone off guard. Healthcare providers were unprepared, especially in the early stages of the outbreak. The CDC and other major health organizations had to scramble to develop new guidelines for infection control and treatment.
Because remote patient monitoring (RPM) and telehealth can be used remotely, healthcare providers can monitor patients outside of the traditional office setting, providing more flexibility in the setting where the patient wants to receive care. RPM proved to be one of the most effective tools available to healthcare providers during the pandemic, but it wasn’t widely used at first. At first, healthcare providers didn’t have the knowledge and experience to use their RPM tools effectively.
The pandemic confirmed just how important these tools can be. But the medical community is still only beginning to understand the potential of this method of patient management, which is why CoachCare teaches providers on the benefits of adding RPM to their practices.
Remote Patient Monitoring Platforms Helped Fight COVID-19
The use of RPM throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has become a major success story. At the start, when medical facilities were overwhelmed with patients, doctors turned to RPM so they could monitor more patients remotely. The RPM system has allowed patients to stay home instead of being admitted to a crowded hospital with a high risk of exposure to COVID-19.
By helping doctors treat more patients, RPM has also reduced the burden on healthcare facilities. Remote monitoring lets doctors continuously monitor patients’ health status and take action before symptoms develop. Remote monitoring of vital signs, especially blood oxygen, has also made it possible to detect how the disease progressed and when more severe intervention may be necessary. Communicating with patients via telehealth has also helped doctors better monitor their patients’ emotional state, diet, and medication taking.
Cost-Benefit Analysis of RPM and Telehealth
An extensive study done by Mayo Clinic found that RPM helped significantly reduce the number of ED visits, hospitalizations and deaths during COVID-19. The study also drew attention to the ways telehealth was more effective with certain populations than others.
By providing a way for patients to receive care at home instead of at the hospital, RPM allowed providers to:
- Reduce the length of hospital stays.
- Reduce overall health care costs.
- Enhance patient satisfaction with their doctor visit experience.
The use of remote pulse-oximetry monitoring systems during COVID-19 was studied in detail by the team at the University Hospital Cleveland Medical Center, who found it greatly aided patient care in the middle of the crisis.
Doctors could now:
- Monitor COVID-19 patients remotely using a mobile app, allowing them to track patients at home and even when traveling.
- Reduce the number of hospital visits by using the app to monitor patients remotely, leading to fewer emergency room visits and less time spent waiting at appointments.
- Identify problems before they became severe enough to require hospitalization, meaning fewer people had to be admitted into an ICU unit, which eased the pressure on hospitals and insurance companies.
Moving forward, it’s natural to ask whether such broadly promising treatment modalities should stop as narrower demands from the pandemic end.
The Continuing Relevance of RPM
During a pandemic, you need a way to track your patients remotely, keep them engaged with treatment protocols, and ensure they comply with your instructions. Should any of this change after the pandemic ends?
The answer is no — it shouldn’t change at all.
RPM systems are not just for pandemics. They offer powerful tools to any healthcare facility that cares for patients at risk of contracting an infectious disease or condition. Telehealth communications systems let providers treat their patients from afar, using medical devices and video conferencing equipment to maintain contact with the patient and their family members.
Healthcare providers who want to expand their services without adding staff can take advantage of RPM and telehealth technology. With a robust internet connection and an appropriate software program installed on a computer or mobile device, they can connect with patients who live far away or have special needs that require daily monitoring.
What About Patients?
Studies show that many patients have improved compliance and satisfaction via RPM and telehealth services, as they can stay at home instead of making multiple trips to and from the doctor’s office for routine tests or checkups. Between that and the round-the-clock monitoring, patients are now less likely to miss a critical health event, like an infection or blood pressure spike. This will lead to better outcomes and lower costs for patients as well as providers.
Developing a Remote Healthcare Monitoring System
Many observers realized that RPM tools would be important, but we were surprised by how the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated their need and development. At CoachCare, we’ve been working with providers for years to build virtual health platforms that serve as a foundation for their practice. If it’s time to level up your practice’s RPM, telemedicine, and connected care, reach out to us to learn how we can help.