The digitalization of healthcare is moving by leaps and bounds. Today, in order to monitor your health, you don’t have to go to the doctor’s office, being distracted from work, family, and important affairs. You can monitor the course of chronic and other diseases from home remotely. Many healthcare providers (88%) are currently interested in this technology and are actively investing in it. What is the peculiarity of remote monitoring and what horizons does it open up for developers of healthcare software solutions and those who use them?
How remote monitoring works
Remote monitoring is based on devices that collect information on patients’ conditions and send it to healthcare providers for diagnosis and treatment. The solutions are user-friendly, increasing the availability of care, since patients don’t have to go to a medical facility, and a doctor receives data for analysis and subsequent diagnosis remotely. This method of monitoring and medical supervision works well for elderly people with chronic diseases, patients after surgery, as well as residents of remote areas who have limited access to medical facilities.
The remote monitoring system is based on the Internet of Things (IoT) and usually includes a medical device, a mobile app, the cloud, and hospital software (including electronic medical records).
The devices collect information on the state of organs and body systems ( heart rate, electrocardiogram signals, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, blood oxygen saturation, etc.), the mobile app collects the information from sensors and sends it to a clinic. All this allows you to control your health without depriving yourself of the сomfortable lifestyle you are used to.
Thus, the essence of remote patient monitoring is to transfer care from traditional medical institutions to the places where people live, work, and rest every day.
According to Research and Markets, the global market for remote monitoring systems will surpass $ 1.7 billion by 2027, which is about 128% of the current market size.
Why health monitoring is important
The benefit of monitoring is not only in its convenience. Remote patient monitoring establishes a new type of relationship between patients and clinicians based on trust and transparency.
Constant monitoring of the state of health allows your doctor to choose a more accurate treatment method and shortens the recovery time. For example, remote monitoring technologies have enabled the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to reduce the risk of patient readmission by 76% and receive over 90% of positive reviews.
As we’ve already mentioned, patients can visit medical facilities less often, which is crucial during the pandemic, when the number of beds in hospitals is limited, and going to a clinic means an additional risk of contamination, especially speaking of the elderly. Patients don’t need to break away from work, waste time traveling and waiting in lines, while healthcare workers have access to the patients’ vital signs and can better control their health. In addition, remote monitoring helps to allocate the funds of medical institutions more efficiently.
What remote monitoring devices are already on the market
In five years, the number of remote monitoring devices will double. It’s an impressive pace, isn’t it? Below are some devices the data from which can be transmitted to doctors for remote monitoring.
- Tonometer to track blood pressure and heart rate;
- Blood glucose meter for monitoring blood sugar levels;
- A home blood clotting device designed to prevent the risk of thromboembolism;
- Medical alert systems for remote monitoring of the elderly that warn ambulance workers and relatives of falls and other accidents;
- A device for monitoring the condition of the fetus and mother during pregnancy that notifies doctors in case of emergencies;
- Smart scales to control weight, prevent water retention in the body, etc.
The list can be supplemented with pill dispensers that remind people of taking medicine, pulse oximeters, devices for recording ECG and electroencephalograms, electronic stethoscopes, etc. Many of these features (blood pressure and heart rate monitoring, pulse oximetry, ECG) are implemented in modern smartwatches.
What are the latest healthcare software solutions in the field of remote patient monitoring?
Mayo Clinic: recovering from COVID-19
The Mayo Clinic in the United States began taking advantage of remote monitoring five years ago and then expanded it to patients with coronavirus.
After being discharged from the hospital, people at risk of complications receive a pulse oximeter, an electronic thermometer, a smart scale, a blood pressure monitor, and a tablet to record their vital signs on a regular basis. Healthcare workers analyze this data around the clock and give people recommendations in case of any suspicious changes, for example, a decrease in the level of oxygen in their blood.
Monitoring of the condition of children with complex diseases
Doctors at the American medical center called Children’s Health in Dallas remotely monitor the condition of children with complex diseases, as well as young patients who need organ transplants. After surgeries, children need supervision, care, and timely drug therapy. To do this, the hospital uses Samsung Galaxy tablets and the Vivify Health Remote Care platform, which is integrated with the organization’s electronic health records (EPIC EHR).
The remote monitoring system helps doctors monitor the condition of children, conduct remote visits, and train them via video calls. Special cordless bands are used to control medication administration to adjust the treatment and avoid complications.
According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, about a quarter of retirees suffer from type 2 diabetes. This condition often causes a diabetic foot ulcer, which is a common cause of amputation.
To prevent such consequences, retirees prone to developing diabetic foot ulcers were given special Podimetrics SmartMats, which measure the temperature of the foot. The algorithm detects inflammation about a month before it develops into an ulcer, and all people need to do is to stand on the mat for 20 seconds every day. The results are sent to the Podimetrics system via the cloud. If tests show suspicious changes, doctors prescribe treatment.
Remote heart disease monitoring
UCLA Health, the American network of hospitals and primary care centers, has created a remote monitoring program for patients who have undergone heart surgery. After being discharged, people receive cardiac equipment: scales, heart rate monitors, tonometers, pulse oximeters, and tablets.
This system sends real-time information to hospital staff and alerts if something is wrong with a patient. Doctors can recognize and treat dehydration, shortness of breath, early signs of pneumonia, and drug intolerance. Remote monitoring technologies significantly reduce the number of postoperative complications and hospital readmissions.
A non-contact sleep monitoring solution
Lack of sleep and rest is bad for our well-being and mood and costs the average American employer about $ 1967 a year per employee. Sometimes companies even pay more to those of their employees who sleep more than six or seven hours.
Emfit is a non-contact solution that allows you to monitor your sleep quality based on ballistocardiography. The device continuously measures heart rate and respiration, sleep phases (fast, deep, light, awake), changes in heart rate, and the autonomic nervous system balance. Based on this data, people can adjust their schedule, i. e. training sessions, business meetings, and so on, while staying energetic.
AI-powered noncontact monitoring
Donisi Health, a healthcare software development company, recently received FDA approval to market its Gili Pro BioSensor system in the United States. The solution allows you to monitor your heart and respiratory rate in a non-contact and accurate way at a distance of up to several meters thanks to optical sensors and AI algorithms. Users control the equipment and view reports via the Donisi mobile app. A particular need for this kind of sensor arises in psychiatric wards, where healthcare workers need to do the rounds frequently.
Remote patient monitoring is a new step in the development of medicine that guarantees increased security, accuracy, and convenience in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Remote monitoring allows people to pay increased attention to their health and prevent complications. The data that is processed by AI and Machine Learning can be used to develop medicines and new therapies and improve diagnosis
Healthcare software development companies are expected to produce five times as many remote monitoring devices by 2025, while the global market will grow to $ 117.1 billion. This is another confirmation of healthcare software solutions’ popularity since the latest technologies improve people’s lives.