Remote patient monitoring is poised to revolutionize healthcare, just as mobile technology has altered business, personal communication, and entertainment. As explained below, mobile monitoring could help save lives, improve quality of care, and reduce costs for both patients and healthcare providers.
Continuous patient-monitoring software gives clinicians the ability to remotely view vital information from multiple device categories, including ventilators, capnography monitors, and pulse oximeters. The software wirelessly transmits patient information from the bedside to a hospital’s server. From there, clinicians can view the data within the hospital network on any web-enabled device: smartphones, tablets, desktops, workstation on wheels, and nurse stations. Thanks to wireless sensors, clinicians are able to monitor patients’ vitals and quickly respond — even while away from the patient or hospital.1
Patient information is formatted into HL-7 protocol and sent to the hospital’s electronic medical records and clinical information systems, reducing the need to manually compile patient reports.2 The software can also be scaled to meet a range of needs for healthcare providers. Through a subscription, it can be deployed in one care area, throughout the entire facility, or across multiple healthcare-system facilities. The software is compatible with most hospitals’ existing network servers and security platforms, simplifying integration into network systems.
But the possibilities go far beyond the hospital. Remote monitoring enables consistent tracking of patients’ vitals from their homes. As patients recover from acute-care situations, clinicians can remotely monitor blood pressure, respiration rate, glucose, and more. The technology can also help determine whether patients have fallen or remain immobile for an extended period of time.
As clinicians begin to monitor patients in broader environments, there could be a significant decrease in the number of 30-day readmissions — something one in five patients currently experience. With readmission costs totaling more than $25 billion annually, remote monitoring has the potential to reduce healthcare expenses.3 At the same time, the technology could dramatically improve patient outcomes.
In a recent study of patients with diabetes, heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, researchers from the NIH and Flagstaff Medical Center found that enrolled patients showed a significant reduction in required hospitalization (42%) compared to their previous treatment regime. In addition, patients experienced fewer days of hospitalization than before their enrollment, the average length of stay decreased by 64% from 14.2 to 5.2 days. This brought savings in healthcare utilization from an average of $138,600 (per patient, before enrollment) to $44,673 (after enrollment). This trend even held when the patients were compared to matched, control cohorts, albeit the statistical significance in this small study was not as pronounced. Nevertheless, the study unambiguously showed that telemonitoring of remote patients can result significant savings whilst maintaining a high standard of medical care.4
And the technology has potential beyond patient care. Mobile health-monitoring devices now provide helpful insights about the impact of daily activities. Consumers use mobile applications to track food consumption, exercise, and sleep patterns. Not only do these applications assist the average person in leading a healthier life, but they also have the potential to reduce healthcare issues in the not-so-remote future.
Julia Strandberg is vice president of global marketing, patient monitoring, Covidien.
- Zephyr Technology. Available at http://zephyranywhere.com.
- Covidien. Vital Sync Virtual Patient Monitoring Platform 2.4. Available at covidien.com/vitalsync.
- June 2007 Report to the Congress: Promoting Greater Efficiency in Medicare. MedPac, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission; 108.
- Riley WT, Keberlein P, Sorenson G, Mohler S, et al. Program Evaluation of Remote Heart Failure Monitoring: Healthcare Utilization in a Rural Regional Medical Center. Telemedicine and e-Health, July 2014.