Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a revolutionary new way of delivering healthcare that is rapidly gaining traction in the industry. Using remote patient monitoring, healthcare providers can continuously observe and assess their patients’ vital signs and health parameters, which allows for more prompt responses and interventions as needed.
However, while remote patient monitoring offers several advantages for healthcare providers and patients, there are also some challenges associated with these technologies that organizations must address to fully maximize the benefits. The primary challenges include employing measures to ensure any data recorded is accurate, that this data is securely transmitted and stored, and that patients adhere to the monitoring process.
While selecting and implementing a remote patient monitoring takes time, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. The good news is that there are workable solutions to resolve the challenges. These are discussed in more detail below.
Data accuracy is a key consideration in any remote patient monitoring system. As this type of care hinges on the transmission of a patient’s medical data, it is essential that the data recorded and transmitted is accurate. Inaccurate and unreliable data can potentially result in a patient being misdiagnosed or staff missing a patient’s warning signs.
There are many variables that can affect the accuracy of data transmitted via remote patient monitoring systems. As sensors play a vital role in patient monitoring, it is important that only high-quality sensors are employed in RPM devices. In addition, all sensors and data collection devices must be properly calibrated. Ensuring the accuracy of these sensors is imperative to mitigate the potential hazards associated with inaccurate data readings.
Even if an RPM solution has excellent data accuracy, the system will be of little use if the patient does not adhere to the monitoring schedule. RPM typically makes it easier for patients to adhere to treatment plans because it can reduce the need for the patient to physically meet with healthcare providers. However, the patient may still need to take measurements or submit data manually to their healthcare provider, depending on their treatment plan. If the patient doesn’t comply with instructions, their treatment will be less effective.
Patient education can help these patients understand what is expected of them and comply with the monitoring process. In addition, providers can select an RPM solution with features that make it easier for patients to comply — for example, visual or audio reminders for patients to take their medicine, take a measurement, submit a data reading, or other action.
With remote patient monitoring, sensitive medical information is transmitted via the internet, making security a major concern. Any data transmitted wirelessly is vulnerable to breaches, cyberattacks, internet outages, and various other threats that can jeopardize the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of patient data. These vulnerabilities can result in data compromises that can have severe repercussions for patients and healthcare providers alike.
In order to improve cybersecurity and protect patient data, it is essential to have robust security measures in place. One approach that RPM providers can employ to improve data security is Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) — a public key encryption technique based on elliptic curve theory. ECC is a three step process that ensures the secure transmission of patient data.
Real-Time Access to Patient Data
Being able to monitor patients in real time, from any location, is one of the key benefits of remote patient monitoring. It allows healthcare professionals to quickly detect deterioration in a patient’s health and to take timely action when needed. However, real-time access to patient data does not happen automatically. A stable internet connection and sufficient bandwidth is required for RPM systems to function efficiently, ensure uninterrupted data transmission, and prevent data loss during transmission.
One of the primary challenges that organizations face when implementing an RPM solution — or any other technology — is compatibility. New technologies must be compatible with existing IT systems. If not, healthcare staff will be confronted with the daunting task of managing an overwhelming influx of data from diverse and disjointed systems.
For example, if patient monitoring data isn’t connected to electronic medical records (EMR), patient information will be siloed in different systems and providers will have an incomplete picture of the patient’s health. They’ll also waste time accessing multiple systems to find patient information and put in context. This is why it’s important to select an RPM system that is compatible with existing technology.
RPM Enables Better Patient Care
Remote patient monitoring is proving to be a boon to healthcare, allowing patients to be monitored remotely in the comfort of their homes or care facility, and freeing up hospital staff so they can devote more time to patients who need hands-on care. To maximize the power of RPM, organizations should consider the challenges above and address them when implementing a system.
Tapestry Health offers an extensive selection of remote patient monitoring solutions that encompasses devices as well as contactless radar and radio wave technologies capable of recording and transmitting vital signs, such as heart rate, temperature, and other health data.
The company’s Vitals Management Program, in particular, has proven highly valuable for monitoring patient data in real time, tracking trends over time, and catching small deviations from the norm that would be difficult to perceive otherwise. The system also accesses EMR data to understand such deviations within the context of the patient’s health and issue alerts only when necessary. The result is more proactive patient care, less alert fatigue for staff, and greater patient safety.