Written on March 2, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. 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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Healthcare costs continue to rise yearly and be a main discussion point in news outlets and among healthcare providers and patients [1,2]. Healthcare spending from people with chronic and mental health conditions accounts for 90% of the United States’ $4.1 trillion annual healthcare expenditures [2,3]. Practitioners and lawmakers continue to look for ways to reduce the costs associated with managing and caring for people with different medical conditions . Remote patient monitoring is one approach being used to improve care and manage rising healthcare costs [4-8].
Before delving more into what remote patient monitoring is used for, let’s first discuss what remote patient monitoring is. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth became widely adopted, making remote patient monitoring programs more prevalent . Furthermore, providers are implementing remote patient monitoring programs because of the advances in digital medical technologies, growing awareness of telehealth services, better insurance coverage, and the ability to monitor and prevent serious complications remotely.
Remote patient monitoring involves using technological advances to collect health data from patients in one location and electronically send or upload the information to a healthcare provider in another place for analysis [7,9]. In a systematic review including 272 articles, researchers found that 76.8% of the articles provided a generally positive result with remote monitoring .
Remote patient monitoring is used to manage various chronic diseases such as heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, hypertension, inflammatory bowel syndrome, end-stage renal diseases, and diabetes [8,9,11]. Acute conditions, including COVID-19, high-risk pregnancies, and postoperative care, have also been monitored using remote patient monitoring programs. Remote management outside the conventional healthcare setting or office visits allows for earlier detection of the decline or change in disease status . Successful remote monitoring creates opportunities to intervene efficiently and implement management strategies before the conditions worsen significantly.
A study assessing patient engagement with remote patient monitoring technology in type 2 diabetic patients found that patients who engaged more with the remote monitoring devices had a lower HbA1c level at the end of the three-month program . Remote patient monitoring programs have also been studied in heart failure and are reported as being effective in reducing heart failure rehospitalization and associated death .
Advances in digital technologies have expanded remote capabilities and have transformed patient monitoring; these include Bluetooth and mobile network integrations .
An example of a remote patient monitoring digital technology is glucometers connected wirelessly so that data can be sent through the internet to a healthcare provider to monitor diabetic patients . A pulse oximeter worn on the wrist that has the ability to transmit oxygen saturation data used to manage COPD is also an example of a remote electronic device used in remote patient monitoring programs . Other technologies may include weight scales and blood pressure monitors that can transfer data remotely to healthcare providers for interpretation [9,11,13].
There are some major benefits of remote patient monitoring. As we have stated earlier, the implementation of remote monitoring has positively impacted the diseases it is being used to manage. Let’s look at some additional benefits that remote monitoring offers patients :
Though there are various benefits to implementing remote patient monitoring for different chronic and acute diseases, there are still some causes for concern. The devices used in remote patient monitoring may need more standards on appropriate testing for clinical effectiveness in overall disease management . It is still unclear which patients will benefit the most from remote patient monitoring. With many patients enrolled, there may be little regard for meaningful, beneficial outcomes. Additionally, which of the remote digital devices and requirements would provide the highest clinical value is a consideration.
At Everlywell, we have resources to help you remain on top of your overall health and wellness. You can explore our Virtual Care Visits where you can schedule a meeting with a healthcare provider to discuss your health goals and recommendations personalized to you.