COVID-19 has changed the way we see the world; it has brought with itself a boom in the use of technology in every field. Talking about the health sector, where traditionally a visit to a hospital was necessary for a routine check-up, now has also been replaced with in-house monitoring systems. These new monitoring systems have gained trust and their frequent use has become a new normal. The developers of these health monitoring systems have to be very careful while creating them. There are few golden rules to be considered while developing such a system that will help COVID warriors in extending the barriers of patient care outside the hospital by reducing physical interaction and dealing with health situations effectively.
Why is Remote Patient Monitoring System Gaining Importance?
First of all, let us understand what exactly is Remote Patient Monitoring System? Is it a health-care solution on video or audio calls with the doctor? No, it is not just telehealth, rather it is an entire program of the real-time health monitoring system that gained importance in the pandemic era because it could monitor the patient from home and send data to the team of doctors for timely diagnosis and response if the vital numbers are not well within the acceptable limits. These are healthtech solutions normally provided by larger corporate hospitals.
These hospitals have tie-ups with software companies that help in healthcare app development to record the data of the patient and provide continuous diagnosis and if the parameters do not match the standard values then an alert is generated. A study back in 2015 entitled ‘Reduced Cost and Mortality Using Home Telehealth to Promote Self-Management of Complex Chronic Conditions: A Retrospective Matched Cohort Study of 4,999 Veteran Patients’, published in Pubmed indexed journal suggested less cost of healthcare due to decreased ER, hospital visits, admissions, and reduced mortality rate achieved because of remote patient monitoring systems.
There are also few diseases like Sleep Apnea that requires constant patient monitoring while s/he is sleeping, this can only be achieved when software companies work on such healthcare software development, research on Detection of sleep apnea by case-finding and home monitoring with Somnolter®: a pilot study concludes the use of real-time health monitoring system at home can be useful in detecting the problems with patients at high risk.
Golden Rules to Consider While Creating a Remote Patient Monitoring System
- Defining a Goal: Before developing a healthtech solution proper planning should be done regarding the kind of patients who are going to be served. Set of Clinicians should be consulted and then the problem, diagnosis and solution should be discussed. The set of readings such as Blood Pressure, Heart rate, Oxygen level, etc can be selected on what all should be recorded and how should it be sent to the team of doctors, and should there be a patient portal where the values should be saved time to time or what mechanism should be applied. These all questions should be answered in the presence of an IT team who will be involved in healthcare software development, so that they can better judge the feasibility on technical aspects. The goal should be defined with both the clinical and IT team.
- Finding a Simple Solution: The success of a remote patient monitoring system depends on the how user friendly it is. It is important to understand the people who are going to use might not be tech savvy or they may not understand medical jargons. It should also be noted the hardware used should be easy to carry with. The wearable devices should be light and the patient should not feel uneasy. Amy Heymans and Tiffany Mura, in their article, state that healthtech solutions which connect to commonly used day to day devices, such as smartphones are used by more number of people and perform better than an entirely new device/ hardware consisting of a new interface.
- Setting up a Realistic Budget: To create a remote patient monitoring system, huge investment is required at all stages, thus it is always judicious to consider and set up budget requirements. Money is involved not only to pay salaries and buy hardware but also in healthcare app development because such apps need to be incorporated/ launched on some platform which would require a fee. So budget should be defined beforehand with proper heads on what is the maximum amount which can be spent under which head.
- Data Accuracy, Collection and Security: This kind of system collects health data by the use of certain devices, thus it is necessary that the data should be correct. While creating a monitoring system, it is advisable to verify the values collected by the device with traditional methods. After the collection of data, certain mechanism would be involved to transmit it, so data security is equally important. The data should be saved and transmitted or uploaded in an encrypted format to avoid any misuse.
- Measure Success: The last but important consideration is to measure the success of the remote monitoring system created. A very thoughtful way to measure discussed by Joel Klein in a blog, is to keep a record of how many patients are benefitted from such a system. This can be calculated by various parameters, for example, asking the number of times they were required to visit hospitals before the use of monitoring system and the number of times they have visited after the use, on monthly or quarterly basis. Such measures are patient oriented and may provide better insights.
A robust remote patient monitoring system is a boon for patients who live in rural or remote areas. Be it implementing a telemedicine concept or serving remote patients effectively, the remote monitoring system is always useful for the healthcare sector. All these five aspects can assist a thriving healthcare organization to implement a remote patient monitoring system effectively.