Successful RPM needs leading edge tech, thoughtful implementations

This flu season will see at least 26 million cases, 290,000 hospitalizations and 19,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Combine that with a prolonged doctor shortage and it could be a recipe for disaster in emergency rooms and urgent care centers this winter.

One way to reduce the burden on healthcare workers and potentially improve patient experience and outcomes is through remote patient monitoring. This technology allows doctors and nurses to monitor a patient's vital signs while the patient is at home, freeing up bed space in healthcare facilities and eliminating the stress of a hospital stay.

As president of Honeywell Sensing & Safety Technologies, Sarah Martin knows a lot about the opportunities and challenges of RPM. Healthcare IT news sat down with her to discuss how advances in remote monitoring are having major benefits for improved care and outcomes, why the ability for healthcare professionals to track vital signs outside of a hospital setting becomes important during cold and flu season – and how RPM could be a transformative technology for healthcare providers and patients.

Q. How can advances in remote patient monitoring deliver significant benefits to patients and healthcare providers, improving medical care and patient outcomes?

A. RPM has driven improvements in physician efficiency, healthcare costs, and the overall patient experience, benefiting both providers and patient outcomes. A key benefit is the streamlining and simplification of workflows within healthcare systems.

RPM not only reduces the time required to collect and analyze data, but also minimizes the administrative burden for healthcare professionals. The result is a significant reduction in physician workload, freeing up valuable time and resources that can be dedicated to personalized patient care, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes.

In addition to providing efficient care, the implementation of RPM also appears to be cost-effective. By enabling healthcare providers to monitor and care for patients outside the traditional hospital setting, the technology has the potential to reduce hospital readmissions.

A recent study found that RPM can lead to: 87% fewer hospital admissions. This in turn frees up beds for those who need critical personalized attention and contributes to overall cost savings within the healthcare system.

Creating this shift in care delivery not only improves the overall patient experience, but also promotes a more favorable healing environment. Patients can avoid the stress and discomfort of frequent hospital visits, leading to a significant improvement in their quality of life.

Additionally, the ability to monitor and manage a patient's health remotely provides caregivers with the peace of mind that their loved ones are receiving attentive care at home, enabling a more positive and supportive care experience.

Q. Why does the ability for healthcare professionals to remotely monitor vital signs outside of a hospital setting become critical during cold and flu season?

A. Cold and flu season often leads to an influx of patients with breathing problems and other flu-related symptoms. RPM allows healthcare professionals to closely monitor vital signs without requiring patients to make frequent trips to the hospital.

This not only minimizes patients' exposure to potential infections, but also helps manage resources efficiently by reserving in-person visits for those who truly need immediate attention.

During respiratory virus season, the challenges posed by increased patient loads are exacerbated by a shortage of doctors and nurses. As the number of admitted patients increases, so does the need for more doctors, nurses and other health care providers.

However, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, it is expected that one shortage of doctors of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians in the US by 2034. By remotely monitoring patients' vital signs outside the hospital, healthcare professionals can efficiently allocate resources so they are available to those with severe symptoms, while treating less critical cases remotely can manage.

RPM technology provides improved efficiencies within clinical environments to deal with expected workforce shortages and help maintain a balance in resource use during busy times.

Q. How is RPM a transformative technology for both healthcare providers and patients? You say it can increase access to health care, improve patient outcomes and improve quality of life. How?

A. We are on the cusp of a future where patient-centric tools, powered by data, are seamlessly integrated into every aspect of patient care. This integration enables healthcare providers to deliver unparalleled, individualized care while streamlining their workflows.

One of the key transformative aspects of RPM is its ability to revolutionize the way healthcare is delivered by creating continuous connections with patients and enabling 24/7 monitoring. This proves especially vital for patients with chronic conditions that require extensive monitoring of vital signs over extended periods of time, and who cannot remain in a hospital indefinitely.

This constant monitoring facilitates the early detection of any deviations from baseline, allowing timely interventions and preventing the escalation of health problems.

Additionally, RPM provides valuable data to healthcare providers from a broad group of patients, allowing them to see trends in symptoms, treatment and outcomes. Certain limitations on access to healthcare, such as geography and transportation, are reduced by RPM.

The transformative impact on healthcare accessibility is evident as RPM extends care beyond traditional hospital settings, allowing patients to receive personalized attention in the comfort of their home or in an outpatient setting.

In addition to the medical benefits, the emotional benefits for the patient and their families are significant. From personalized care to a higher quality of life without any limitations in a hospital bed, creating benefits for patients that go beyond medical treatment.

Wider adoption of RPM technology will be a breakthrough innovation that will help us improve healthcare, scale physician workloads, and achieve better patient outcomes while improving quality of life.

By adopting cutting-edge digital technologies and properly planning implementation processes, we can pave the way for a new era in healthcare.

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