Remote Physiologic Monitoring Delivers in Challenging Times
By Karen Larimer PhD, ACNP-BC, FAHA, physIQ Director of Clinical Development
Plato wrote “necessity is the mother of invention”. There is no better example of necessity than effectively addressing COVID-19 and its impact on patients, healthcare professionals, and our health system at large. Our traditional process of outpatient visits for evaluation and management risks increased exposure to this deadly virus to the public as well as the clinical team.
Necessity also demands that the fundamentals of patient care remain intact, now more than ever. The ability to assess a patient, make a treatment plan and evaluate that plan persist. However, safety of the patient and the healthcare professional are requirements that cannot be at odds. In this case necessity drives us to “invention” of solutions that advance our care of the patient, protect the healthcare professional and maximize the care our system can deliver.
Remote patient monitoring is the “invention” that delivers on all these levels. Technologic advancement of biosensors allows us to measure nearly any human physiologic signal. The quality and volume of data with applied analytics, as well as the development of user-friendly interfaces exists today. This type of patient monitoring not only supports the ability to assess patient status but diminishes frequent exposure to healthcare professionals. End-to-end solutions can pull data, analyze and present it to the clinical team, and deliver on scalability as thousands of patients can be monitored at one time without being in a physical hospital.
Solutions like remote patient monitoring can be implemented now in priority populations like those living in nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities. Patients with conditions that inhibit an adequate immune response, like those receiving chemotherapy, patients with heart failure, diabetes, kidney disease or COPD could also benefit. These patients require management for their condition regardless of COVID-19. Traditionally this means bringing these patients to a clinic (where there are large groups of people) for routine care which could increase their risk of exposure. The answer is to monitor them remotely as our goal remains: keeping them as healthy as possible and out of the hospital.
Telehealth, which offers the ability to ‘see’ and talk to the patient through video-visits is one piece of the solution. We have seen great uptake of this system (and now greater reimbursement), but it may not be wholly adequate to address the patient’s needs. In order to deliver on the ability to do a robust assessment it requires data that only remote monitoring can yield. It also only delivers data to the clinician at one point in time and does not provide continuous monitoring potential.
While the necessity of providing care to our patients in a safe and scalable way could be the mother of invention, I believe that invention has already been delivered. Remote patient monitoring is here now and ready to show how it can make a difference today.