Remote Patient Monitoring: Could it Reduce Hospital Readmissions?
Patient education is a big task for healthcare providers. Theoretically, when patients are taught how to take better care of themselves when faced with things like chronic illness, they’ll be more able to avoid expensive and potentially lengthy hospital stays. Physicians, nurses and individuals in similar roles can quickly learn which patients are likely to resist compliance just by looking at a pattern of events in a chart. In cases where non-compliance is habitual, a technology called remote patient monitoring could ease the burden on healthcare providers everywhere. A projection study by Juniper Research asserts that by 2018, it may save the world’s healthcare systems as much as 36 billion dollars. Keep reading to find out why.
Expanding Possibilities in the Cardiac Field
The practice of remote patient monitoring is not entirely new. The holter monitor, a machine that continuously measures heart rhythms, is a great example of an early device that tracked patient health even when a person was not in the direct presence of healthcare providers, and it’s been used since the 1960s. However, there are now devices that can alert someone to much more than just a heart rhythm abnormality. In 2011, a device known by the acronym WANDA was developed by healthcare professionals at UCLA and studied at length.
Designed for individuals diagnosed with congestive heart failure, it’s able to monitor a patient’s weight, blood pressure, heart rate and activity levels. These readings are taken with sensors and transmitted wirelessly. This is just one of many examples of how technology is making it easier to see if patients are adhering to home care recommendations while also monitoring vital signs. That’s potentially significant from both a financial and healthcare perspective, because according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, congestive heart failure costs Americans about 29 billion dollars per year in medical expenses.
Better Chronic Care Management
There’s also a platform called Health Buddy that’s designed to empower patients with chronic conditions by allowing them to take responsibility for managing their health after being discharged from the hospital. It has over 100 health management programs and aims to keep people from having to return to the hospital due to complications after discharge. The programs record vital signs, assist with symptom management and transmit patient data in the form of surveys that are completed by patients in their homes.
Audio and Video Correspondence Between Caregivers and Patients
The Intel company has also developed a remote patient monitoring system called the Health Guide that sends patient data to clinicians and also harnesses patient education opportunities by using multimedia tools that teach relevant care techniques. It also has audio and video features to assist with patient monitoring. Thanks to these, patients and their care providers can connect across the miles and receive the peace of mind that comes from being able to see a video image and hear a person’s reassuring voice.
In closing, judging by these examples, it makes sense why many believe remote patient monitoring could work so well for cutting healthcare costs and reducing the burdens on overly taxed caregivers, especially if the devices currently available or being tested are very user-friendly and make patients want to start using them right away.
Brett Harris is a health blogger. If you’re interested in combining business and health, check out the Top 10 online masters in health informatics.