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A recent study found 70% of patients believe remote patient monitoring enables better care management.
Not long ago, wearables – from activity trackers, like Fitbits to health devices, like heart-rate monitors – were only a small part of the annual Consumer Electronics Show. But there's been dramatic change in just the past few years. In fact, in January, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2022 prominently featured more than 100 companies in a new digital health track, all of which are seeking to address the growing demand for remote monitoring in the healthcare sector.
What took center stage at this year’s CES goes far beyond smart watches. Solutions included devices and applications for managing blood pressure and nutrition, measuring ketones and blood glucose levels, monitoring body composition and babies’ sleep patterns, tracking nerve activity and cardiovascular health, and more. Data generated from these more sophisticated solutions is not only to satisfy individuals' curiosity about their fitness, however. Many of these solutions facilitate sharing of data with physicians to help deliver more personal and precise care for serious health conditions and to continue to enable the transition to value-based care models.
The Rise in Digital Connectivity in Healthcare
Today, healthcare consumers of all ages are open to -- and increasingly comfortable with -- their physicians suggesting using connected health devices or prescribing remote patient monitoring (RPM) technology. This continuous connection between consumers and their providers creates a shared language and the opportunity for shared decision-making. In fact, a recent study found that 70% of patients believe remote patient monitoring enables better care management.
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) 23rd annual Consumer Technology Ownership & Market Potential Study also noted that more people see technology as essential because they discovered during the pandemic how such innovations can improve their lives. Currently, about one-quarter of consumers surveyed have smart or connected health monitoring devices, and these numbers are expected to continue to grow over the next 12 months.
As consumer interest grows and new applications are developed, so will use in healthcare settings. Healthcare providers understand the potential of RPM as a key component in the evolution towards more proactive, continuous models of care, and are adopting it in their practices as solutions are authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for clinical use and are eligible for reimbursement. By 2025, one report estimates that the number of U.S. remote patient monitoring users will almost double to 70.6 million – more than one-quarter of the population. This growth will be facilitated by the continued push to move patient care into patients' daily lives, rather than being relegated to the four walls of the doctor’s office or healthcare facility.
The Healthcare Data Tsunami
With even more mobile and remote devices gathering personal health information, individuals and their healthcare providers could easily find themselves drowning in a sea of data. Today, about 30% of the world's data volume is being generated by the healthcare industry, with estimates that it will continue at a 36% compound annual growth rate through 2025. Not surprising, reports also show that each person could have nearly 5,000 digital device interactions a day by that same year, with the majority being healthcare related. The sheer quantity of data will be overwhelming for clinicians–let alone patients– to decipher.
One of the major weaknesses of the connected health market is the disconnect between RPM and electronic health records (EHRs) and physician workflows. Generally, doctors can prescribe devices like continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) or blood pressure monitors from their EHR system, but bringing the resulting data full circle back into the clinical workflow to drive improvements in patient outcomes is not happening. Often, gathering the data remains the responsibility of the patient or requires the clinician to log into a separate software system to access the data. Because this RPM-generated data is not automatically integrated into EHR workflows, the full context of the patient’s health is missing. That complete, whole-person assessment is key to driving a continuous, iterative, collaborative model of care.
Achieving the Promise of Connected Health
Studies have shown that data from remote patient monitoring devices has helped improve patient outcomes. For example, Leon Medical Centers, an outpatient medical care institution in Miami-Dade County, recently found that a remote patient monitoring program for high-risk diabetes patients helped lower A1c levels below 9% for 84% of patients – a key indicator of better diabetes control.
Successful implementation of RPM will require an ecosystem of devices, applications and platforms that integrate with EHR workflows to tell the story of each patient’s health. The ability to gain a better understanding of a patient's condition on a day-to-day basis through connected devices, combined with details from provider-patient interactions, diagnostic results and other key data points will give providers the tools they need to help patients realize better outcomes. Clinical Decision Support tools will also be an important component to make patient data actionable.
If clinicians are unable to see the data curated and streamlined within their workflow, and act on the insights in a timely manner, it will be impossible to achieve the benefits to individual patients and to population health promised by RPM and connected health innovations.
Lucienne Marie Ide, M.D., PH.D., is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rimidi, a leading clinical management platform designed to optimize clinical workflows, enhance patient experiences and achieve quality objectives. She brings her diverse experiences in medicine, science, venture capital and technology to bear in leading Rimidi’s strategy and vision.