Gains in managing chronic disease – remote patient monitoring
Globally, healthcare systems are under tremendous pressure; struggling to improve access to timely, quality care in the face of the growing demands of an aging population, an increasing number of people with chronic illnesses, fewer clinicians, and a healthcare system primarily focused on treating acute conditions. These pressures coupled with the lengthy wait times for adequate senior housing or Long Term Care (LTC) beds are providing the stimulus for the adoption of new care models in the community that will allow a patient to stay in their home and still receive quality care.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) will be an enabler of this change, transforming current practices in chronic disease care from ongoing or continual acute care episodes to a more proactive approach that empowers a patient to return to their benchmark threshold of health through appropriate device monitoring, behavior modification and interaction with care providers – all remotely. RPM also ensures that vital clinical information is collected once, securely transmitted, and then shared with all the appropriate healthcare team members involved in the patient’s care.
Remote Patient Monitoring is particularly effective for managing a number of chronic diseases which lend themselves to daily monitoring, such as Diabetes, Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and Hypertension.
Introduction: A Growing Crisis
Globally, The World Health Organization (WHO) member countries have indicated the need for action on chronic disease and state: “The global epidemic of chronic disease must, and can, be stopped. This invisible epidemic is an under-appreciated cause of poverty and hinders the economic development of many countries. Chronic disease is responsible for 60% of all deaths worldwide with almost half of chronic disease deaths occurring in people under the age of 70.” (Source – WHO)
Chronic disease patients are often treated with medications, driving up drug expenditures and opening the door to additional acute care episodes brought on by non-compliance issues and adverse reactions. Remote monitoring can assist patients in managing their medication compliance as well as detecting early signals of potential adverse reactions or other patient safety issues.
Managing the health of patients with chronic diseases is therefore becoming not only a clinical imperative but a financial one as well. To address both concerns, state/provincial and regional health authorities/managed care organizations are trying to migrate patients from acute care to lower cost alternatives, such as community care and home-based clinical monitoring.
Patient Engagement and an Extended Team Approach
Up until now patients have had limited involvement in their health, using health services and providers to reactively treat acute episodic events rather than proactively working with care providers to promote their own overall wellness and prevent further illness or degradation of their condition. This is no longer a viable option. As the number of people with single or co-morbid chronic diseases increases, it is of paramount importance to reduce the number of unnecessary emergency department visits, preventable hospitalizations, and medical referrals, in order to reduce the clinical and financial demands on already overburdened healthcare systems.
Moving care to the home encourages patient engagement and enables them to become an integral part of their extended healthcare team. As many chronic illnesses require daily monitoring, using Remote Monitoring technology, patients are empowered to take traditional medical measurements, such as blood pressure, glucose levels, and weight and then relay the information to the right people at the right time – all from the comfort of their own home. In addition to prescribed clinical monitoring, through biometric devices, the system can deliver medication reminders, trigger patient alerts and elicit patient subjective measurements in a question and answer format that provides the healthcare team a more complete holistic clinical snapshot of the patient in real time. The healthcare team can easily analyze the results and adjust a clinical protocol accordingly based on best practice guidelines built into the system.