Remote patient monitoring is a subcategory of telehealth that allows healthcare professionals to provide ongoing care to patients with acute and chronic illnesses through digital technologies. These digital technologies monitor and record health data and electronically transmit this information to healthcare providers for assessment.
The care team offers recommendations or instructions when necessary.
Examples of common physiological data that remote patient monitoring devices collect include blood pressure, vital signs, heart rate and weight. The following are the standard remote patient monitoring devices that allow patients to input data.
- Continuous glucose monitors
A glucose meter, also known as a glucometer, is a medical device that measures the approximate glucose concentration in blood. Using a lancet, the patient pricks their skin to obtain a small drop of blood, which is then placed on a disposable strip. The meter immediately produces the blood glucose reading sent in real-time to a healthcare provider.
Traditionally, patients with type 1 or 2 diabetes need to record this information and carry it to their doctor’s appointments. But with advanced RPM devices, healthcare professionals receive real-time information, hence better patient outcomes. The results from the blood sample also help a patient and provider to understand how factors like medications, diet, exercise, illness, or stress affect blood glucose.
- Anticoagulation testing device
An anticoagulation testing device is used to determine the effects of oral coagulants in patients with artificial heart valves, deep vein thrombosis, atrial fibrillation, or pulmonary embolism. Patients with many conditions require continuous blood testing because anticoagulants like warfarin have a narrow therapeutic index. That means there is a thin line between the maximum effective and minimum toxic concentrations in blood.
Anticoagulants can also interact with other medications or foods rich in vitamin K, and higher doses can result in bleeding.
For these reasons, care providers need more than the data collected when patients visit the lab occasionally for a blood test. Besides the unreliability of this, patients have to consider factors such as taking time off work, securing child care, and finding transportation.
Such variables make it more likely for a patient to forget or miss their doctor’s appointment. But with anticoagulation testing devices, a patient only needs one drop of blood and a minute to get the results.
Patients then record and reports the results to their healthcare provider and await instructions on how to proceed with treatment.
- Heart rate monitors
Heart rate monitors are wearables that measure a patient’s heartbeat per minute while working out to ensure that one doesn’t exceed their maximum heart rate. These devices can tell your care provider when you need to reduce or increase the intensity of your workout and if you need to take medications more or less frequently. Heart rate monitors record and transmit your heartbeat while exercising, during stressful events, on errands, and even when sleeping.
Your doctor can detect symptomatic and asymptomatic arrhythmias or atrial fibrillation after cardiac ablation through the transmitted data. Heart rate monitors have also helped clinicians diagnose and treat syncope and presyncope.
- Blood pressure monitor
A blood pressure monitor is an inflatable cuff that fills with air, squeezing your upper arm to measure changes in artery motion as it deflates. These readings are transmitted to a healthcare provider, allowing the doctor to assess your heart’s status.
Blood pressure monitors provide an easy way for patients to monitor and manage health problems like kidney dysfunction, hypertension, and diabetes which contribute to high blood pressure. This device benefits patients with high blood pressure since it provides day-to-day monitoring instead of a one-time test during an in-person visit.
- Pulse oximeters
These are clips you can attach to your earlobes or fingers; they measure light wavelengths that determine oxygen levels in the blood. Besides measuring the proportion of hemoglobin in oxygen-saturated blood, pulse oximeters also record a patient’s pulse. Pulse oximeters help detect declining lung function, which today may prompt testing for COVID-19.
Low oxygen levels usually indicate a positive diagnosis for COVID-19. Patients with chronic lung or heart issues can benefit from this device, as are individuals who need to supplement oxygen to adjust their flow; this includes people with asthma and pneumonia. Athletes can also use pulse oximeters to monitor their lung function and oxygen levels in the blood while training.