Healthcare provider explaining how remote patient monitoring works

How does remote patient monitoring work?

Written on March 24, 2023 by Lori Mulligan, MPH. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Thanks to the mandatory lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to monitor certain aspects of a patient’s health from their own home has become increasingly popular. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) lets providers manage acute and chronic conditions from the comfort of the patient’s own home. It cuts down on patients’ travel costs and reduces potential risk for infections.

So how does remote patient monitoring work? Before we delve into that, let’s discuss what diseases and conditions RPM can be used for and the types of devices are used.

RPM uses in healthcare

RPM can track many symptoms and conditions, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Heart conditions
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • Asthma

Devices used for RPM

Many of the devices that patients will use may be familiar to them, including [1]:

  • Weight scales
  • Pulse oximeters
  • Blood glucose meters
  • Blood pressure monitors

Other conditions require more complicated devices that will require patient training, including [1]:

  • Apnea monitors
  • Heart monitors
  • Specialized monitors for dementia and Parkinson’s disease
  • Breathing apparatuses
  • Fetal monitors

More providers are implementing RPM for several reasons, including [1]:

  • Advanced medical technology
  • A growing awareness of telehealth for providers and patients
  • More insurance coverage during the COVID-19 public health emergency
  • The ability to monitor and prevent serious complications in remote locations.

How RPM works

To understand how RPM works, let’s look at some examples.

Mount Sinai’s Condition Management Program

This program offers an RPM service that uses in-home devices to monitor a patient’s vital signs remotely. For example, a patient living with hypertension would receive a blood pressure monitor that sends readings taken in the patient’s home directly to the patient’s electronic medical chart for evaluation by their physician and team of clinical pharmacists, dieticians, and patient coordinators. The team works alongside the patient’s physician to monitor the patient’s readings and develop a personalized care plan to manage their condition. Device training, healthy lifestyle education, and support managing medications are offered to patients enrolled in the program [2].

Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) RPM examples

Heart Valve App. This app is given to patients who’ve had heart valve replacement surgery. Each day, the patient takes their vital signs, including their weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation. They also complete a symptom evaluation questionnaire. All of this data is transmitted right into their electronic medical record. This allows their provider to monitor their condition from afar. The provider would receive an alert if the patient were out of what is considered to be a normal range. If necessary, the patient would be instructed to return to the hospital for care.

TACM-2 Diabetic Monitoring. This mobile monitoring device is given to patients with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. Using a telehealth monitoring device, TACM-2 participants are provided materials to test their blood glucose and blood pressure levels on a daily basis. These daily readings are automatically uploaded and stored to a secure server, which the TACM-2 case managers can access in real time.

Burn App. This app connects pediatric burn patients to expert nurses and doctors who can assist them with repeated dressing changes. This type of follow-up care used to require multiple trips to the burn clinic to seek assistance, assess healing, and prevent complications. This telehealth technology is providing families with the peace of mind to assist with the home care their child needs.

Smartphone Asthma Monitoring System (SAMS). This app is currently being used for a clinical trial. Patients recently or currently receiving care for asthma at the MUSC or University of South Carolina/Palmetto Health are eligible to participate in the study. The purpose of SAMS is to use your smartphone to inform your doctor and their healthcare team about your asthma symptoms and medication use in real time from your home environment. Real-time data about your asthma can be used to deliver targeted mobile health interventions including personalized asthma tips and a telehealth asthma visit from their asthma specialists via the app when you need it most [3].

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Challenges with RPM

While all these advances are encouraging, enhancing the RPM experience comes with challenges. For example, clinicians and staff working in device clinics are left processing large volumes of data. Often, this process is fractured and inefficient with occurrences of unnecessary alerts that strain staff time and resources.

These findings were based on a survey of a total of 45 Heart Rhythm Society Allied Health Professionals representing the United States (40), United Kingdom (3), Australia (1), and Egypt (1). They participated in a mixed methods survey examining challenges in managing a remote monitoring device clinic.

They found that approximately 50% of respondents were either satisfied or dissatisfied with issues surrounding managing remote monitoring device clinics. Major themes identified were poor connectivity, staffing issues, and large volume of alerts. Connectivity was a major concern for 88%, and 76% did not use a third-party data management system for importing, monitoring, and reviewing remote reports.

Strategies for success included optimizing standard alerts, assigning designated remote monitoring staff, and partnering with third-party platforms [4].

The future of RPM

The future for RPM is bright when you consider the following statistics and foreshadowing from Physician’s Weekly:

An RPM program offers medical practices a unique opportunity to improve patient care, engagement, and satisfaction while generating sizable and consistent revenues. Practices able to seize the moment will gain a competitive edge in attracting and retaining tomorrow’s patients who will demand RPM as a standard of care.

Everlywell offers resources to help you stay on top of your health and wellness. For example, we encourage you to schedule a virtual visit with one of our clinicians in areas, such as weight management.

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  1. Health and Human Services. Telehealth and remote patient monitoring. Accessed March 13, 2023.
  2. Mount Sinai. Remote monitoring at Mount Sinai: managing chronic conditions from home. Accessed March 14, 2023.
  3. Medical University of South Carolina. Remote patient monitoring. Accessed March 13, 2023.
  4. Harvey M, Seiler A. Challenges in managing a remote monitoring device clinic. Heart Rhythm O2. 2022;3(1): 3–7. doi: 10.1016/j.hroo.2021.12.002
  5. Henderson Z. Remote patient monitoring: it’s easier than you think. Physician’s Weekly. Published September 30, 2022. Accessed March 14, 2023. URL
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