7 ways remote monitoring will improve care delivery

  • June 21 2018, 4:00am EDT

7 ways remote monitoring will improve care delivery

Remote monitoring provides significant value for the healthcare system, such as improved patient compliance, better outcomes, fewer ER visits and hospital admissions, and lower average lengths of stay, according to recent report from Healthbox, a healthcare innovation consultancy serving providers and payers. “Considering these factors, the transition to value-based care and decreasing costs for sensors and other technology, the market for remote monitoring is large and growing. From the providers’ perspective, this market is substantial enough to support several major suppliers,” the report contends.

A simple value proposition

Remote monitoring provides direct patient care, regardless of the patient’s location in relation to clinicians. Typically, a discharged patient is enrolled in a remote monitoring program, then logs his or her vital signs at home and sends them to a care manager, who then can monitors patient data and compliance with the care plan.

Remote monitoring offers:

* Just-in-time application of care to match continuous variations in a patient’s physiologic state.

* Resource intensity scaled to patient acuity by allowing a technologically sophisticated but relatively low-cost solution to replace a home nursing visit.

* Patient engagement in self-management and disease and health awareness by giving the patient access to medication lists, activity tracking and diet recommendations.

* Action or triage at a distance that conserves expensive professional services through a more cost-effective centralized site.

* The ability to use machine learning or other algorithmic techniques to filter out the non-clinically relevant information and identify the important data points that require intervention.

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The ability to target key patients

Remote monitoring programs generally target three patient populations: post-acute, pre-chronic and chronic. Programs may be specific to a single chronic condition or address multiple conditions, but each condition will require the tracking of multiple biometric readings. Chronic health failure, for example, will include tracking of heart rate, heart rate variability and weight. COPD patients would be tracked for respiratory rate, respiratory rate interval, and pulmonary function via a spirometer that measures the movement of air in and out of the lungs.

Ease of use

Most remote monitoring products have two different user interfaces—one for care managers and the other for the patient. A care manager wants a product that is simple and intuitive, easily customizes to the manager’s own care pathways, presents alerts in an easily understood fashion and provides a summary data visualization across a panel or population to prioritize interventions. A patient also wants simplicity and intuitiveness, as well as accessibility. “For both administrators and patients, a good user interface is the key to program adoption,” according to Healthbox.

Robust analytics

With all the data collected to support remote monitoring, a strong analytics program is a must. “Analytics capabilities are essential to the success of a remote monitoring program because they direct the care team’s attention to the most prescient information,” Healthbox says. “Without analytics, much of the data produced is not easily actionable.”

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Analysis that impacts patient care at a distance

There are three tiers of analytic capabilities, Healthbox explains.

* Identification of out-of-bounds measurements provide varying levels of alerts based on how far out of bounds a measurement goes and which type of biometric measurement went out of bounds.

* Trending analysis tools assess trends in a patient’s biometric signals. For example, a patient’s weight may not be out of bounds, but the patient suddenly gains weight in a few days, which is an indication of retaining excess water and requires immediate attention.

* Artificial intelligence tools identify early warning signs that a patient’s health is deteriorating, which usually takes place over several days.

Education and coaching

Similar to how analytics make the output of a remote monitoring program actionable for clinicians, education and coaching make the output of a monitoring program actionable for the patient. A typical monitoring program runs 30 to 90 days, so when that time is up, clinicians should switch to patient education and communication tools such as teach-back quizzes, videos, educational content and text messaging reminders.

The potential to improve care through wearables

With wearable technologies likely the future of remote monitoring, Healthbox offers three glances into the future.

* The extension of wearables’ battery lives to the full length of a report monitoring program.

* A growing number of sensors in each wearable and additional data collected in real time.

* Development of internal bio monitors, such as subcutaneous devices that track blood glucose instantaneously.

“With this shift, care managers will be able to both spend more time interacting with patients and manage larger panels of patients, resulting in higher returns on the investment in human capital,” Healthbox predicts.

The full report is available here.