Many of us have grown increasingly familiar with telehealth since the pandemic, seeking diagnoses and treatment plans remotely rather than venturing out to physically visit clinics and doctors’ offices. But aside from virtual visits, there’s another use case that’s gaining increasing prominence in telehealth: remote patient monitoring, often referred to simply as RPM. The demand for RPM services and devices with reliable and secure connectivity is growing rapidly, and what was once only imaginable in the realm of science fiction is becoming the norm: virtual healthcare and patient monitoring based on real-time physiological patient data transmitted to care providers by connected, reliable devices, all from the comfort of the patient’s home. But what is RPM, and what are its true benefits.
What Remote Patient Monitoring Is
Put simply, remote patient monitoring is exactly what it sounds like: the ability for healthcare providers to monitor their patients outside of traditional healthcare settings, whether that be at home, in an assisted living facility, or anywhere else that the patient has access to network connectivity. Aside from network connectivity, which is an absolute necessity for remote patient monitoring, there are a wide range of RPM devices that can collect and share important data with a patient’s healthcare providers. Here are a few, but by no means all, of the physiologic parameters that various RPM devices can currently collect:
- Blood pressure
- Blood glucose levels
- Pulse oximeter data
- Sleep apnea data
- Specialized data related to dementia and Parkinson’s disease
These RPM devices send health data to providers in real time, which enables more efficient and cost-effective preventative and emergency care while keeping patients away from hospitals, clinics, and physician offices unless truly needed.
Why RPM is So Important – and is the Future of Telehealth
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, there will be a shortage of as many as 48,000 primary care practitioners by 2034. At that same time, the number of people over the age of 65 will be more than 40% higher than it is now – and as many as eight out of ten elderly Americans will be dealing with chronic health issues due to disease, injury, or chronic. Combine the growing need for healthcare with the shrinking base of healthcare providers and it’s easy to see that remote patient monitoring will only continue to gain in importance, since it gives healthcare providers the ability to treat a growing patient base with high quality, securely connected, virtual medical care.
Indeed, RPM devices are already allowing physicians to care for more patients and to respond more quickly to improve health outcomes for their patients. Physiological data transmitted in real time – pulse ox data, blood glucose levels, and the like – eliminates the need for arduous waits for in-person doctor’s appointments or cumbersome travel for medical care. With telehealth and RPM, elderly patients can often age in place, giving them and their caregivers peace of mind. Beyond elder care, RPM devices are now helping providers manage other conditions such as high-risk pregnancies, organ transplants, pediatric diabetes, and more.
Time-pressed providers are eager to adopt remote patient monitoring. Eight out of ten providers already participate in virtual care, and 30% are already using RPM technologies, according to the American Medical Association – numbers that reflect just how useful telehealth and remote patient monitoring already are to healthcare providers.
RPM devices will also save billions of dollars in healthcare costs for consumers as well as providers and insurance companies. Travel and administrative costs are reduced via remote patient monitoring, along with improved accuracy and efficiency in patient recordkeeping. Even the federal government has recognized the importance of widening access to RPM, with Medicare now covering RPM services in dozens of states.
Put it all together, and it’s easy to see why remote patient monitoring will be a substantive part of telehealth’s future.
Special to the Telehealth Industry
For telehealth solution providers, adding RPM to the portfolio is a sound decision for both patient care and business reasons. But the success of RPM within the telehealth space depends in large part on ease of use, reliability of connectivity, and other considerations such as being able to procure the right devices, reverse logistics, and tiered support. Market entry can be cumbersome without the support of a reliable partner, who brings experience in the space and the technological know-how.
Kajeet is a private wireless connectivity provider with extensive experience in providing managed IoT solutions in the telehealth space. We are mission-focused on bridging the digital divide and providing the right tools for companies in telehealth and RPM to get to market quickly, easily, and securely.
Here are a few resources to help you out if you’d like to learn more about how Kajeet can help you with telehealth and remote patient monitoring: