Friday, August 17, 2012

What Is Remote Patient Monitoring?

Perhaps you have heard the phrase 'remote patient monitoring.' Most likely though, you - like me - was not sure exactly what it meant. Laira Davidson joins us today to explain what remote patient monitoring entails: 

Remote Patient Monitoring and Its Impending Effects on the US Healthcare Systems
The business of home monitoring is expected to change the face of American healthcare. From sleep patterns to cardiac events, physicians can monitor patient vitals remotely. By the end of 2011, physicians were remotely monitoring the health of 2.2 million patients around the world according to Berg Insight. From 2010 to 2016, the number is expected to grow to 4.9 million patients. The market for telemonitoring is colossal.

Telemonitoring equipment is reducing the cost of caring for patients with diabetes, chronic pulmonary disease or congestive heart failure. Remote patient monitoring equipment is projected to reach an 18 percent “compound annual growth rate” during this same time period. Experts also expect the market to grow from $7.1 billion in 2010 to $22.2 billion by 2015.

This near exponential increase should have a positive effect on the U.S. healthcare system. As the healthcare system becomes more efficient, physicians will provide better and more personalized care to home-bound patients. Comprehensive data cannot be captured without a lengthy hospital stay that many patients cannot afford. Remote patient monitoring makes it easier to capture data and identify environmental-specific triggers that may not occur in the hospital. This is great advancement for healthcare.

What is Remote Patient Monitoring and How Does It Work?
Remote patient monitoring allows physicians to monitor patient vitals while they are in their homes. Patients must obtain the equipment in their homes for home monitoring. The data captured will be updated in real-time with a physician. A landline connection, cellular network or the Internet is required to complete the data transfer. Many physicians are currently monitoring sleep patterns and administering sleep therapy through remote patient monitoring. Cardiac rhythm management can also be achieved with remote patient monitoring equipment.

Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring
Reduced Costs. Patient costs are reduced because they are not paying for expensive hospital rooms for this type of monitoring. Instead, patients are in the comfort of their own home with their monitoring equipment. While saving money, physicians can avoid admitting patients for long periods of time for monitoring who simply cannot afford the expense. Physicians reduce losses associated with non-paying patients. The concept helps both physicians and patients save.

More Patient Involvement. With at-home monitoring, patients play an active role in their healthcare. Physicians can deliver more accurate diagnosis and treatment with extensive at-home monitoring. Remote patient monitoring will yield better care.

Potential Challenges with Remote Patient Monitoring
Lack of Coverage. Remote patient monitoring services and equipment are not fully covered by insurance providers. The coverage is very limited. As the idea becomes more widely accepted, health insurance coverage may increase.

Medical-Loss Ratio. While the medical-loss ratio does not directly affect remote patient monitoring, it could have an indirect effect. Physicians, under this regulation, are required to spend at least 85 percent of the savings on activities that improve the quality of health care and on medical benefits. Given this requirement, physicians may have an extra incentive to re-invest the money collected on premiums into adopting remote patient monitoring and also advanced equipment related to the migration.

Physicians who are resistant to change may not view this as an added benefit and may not view this as a “value-add” in their practices. In the past, physicians have used the savings on implementing new International Classification of Diseases codes (ICD-10) or on health information technology such as electronic health records (EHRs) and electronic medical records (EMRs). If physicians will also invest in remote patient monitoring, patients will benefit from the savings also.

While there are many implications for improvement, there are likely to be some other challenges as the integration and adoption occurs. Remote patient monitoring is expected to have a significant impact on the United States healthcare system.

This article was written by Laira J. Davidson for PETAP, your guide to finding accredited online nursing schools.

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