The onset of COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a huge upsurge in patients opting for telehealth services. In conjunction with the rising demand for telehealth, remote patient monitoring (RPM) has also seen increased adoption among healthcare providers. This is not unexpected because RPM plays a key role in the efficient delivery of telehealth systems.
Telehealth is the use of telecommunication technologies to remotely render clinician education, health administration, clinical care, and other healthcare-related services. Closely related to this, remote patient monitoring, also called remote physiologic monitoring, uses digital technologies to monitor and collect medical and other health data from patients and transmit this information digitally to healthcare providers for evaluation and consultation. Hence, effective telehealth services need robust implementation of RPM at the frontline.
RPM gained enormous popularity during the COVID-19 health crisis because it allowed healthcare providers to support the health and well-being of their patients without exposing them to the risk of infection. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) asserts that remote patient monitoring is also preferred for COVID-19 patients to monitor symptom intensification, minimize disease transmission risk, and provide timely hospital-based care.”
However, use of RPM is not just limited to pandemic situations. It can scale, streamline, and widen the delivery of quality healthcare to patients based in remote areas and among those unwilling or unable to travel to a healthcare center.
Clinicians today can monitor, report, and evaluate the acute and chronic diseases of your patients from anywhere in the world. This is done in real time using remote patient monitoring equipment.
Patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, dementia, and many other chronic and systemic diseases must keep track of their weight, blood reports, and other vital physiological parameters. Using RPM equipment, patients can share updates on these from the ease and comfort of their own homes—and even offices.
Bluetooth-enabled scales, glucose monitors, skin patches, Fitbits, shoes, belts, and maternity care trackers are few types of non-invasive devices that can collect, process, transmit, and store patient data so that clinicians may access it when needed.
RPM devices can help all kinds of healthcare professionals execute their jobs more effectively and can relieve the stress and scurry regarding healthcare for a wide range of patients. Using sensors that provide alerts to both family members and medical personnel, RPM devices can also provide comfort and reassurance to families of patients who are at a higher risk of falls or accidents. Meanwhile, ongoing research in the field of RPM would help it tackle emerging healthcare challenges such as a rapidly ageing population and increased prevalence of mental health problems.
How EHR/EMR helps to monitor patients
Electronic health records (EHRs) software makes data management easier, clinical operations run more smoothly, and provides a better overall experience for patients. But what exactly is EHR software and how does it monitor patients?
A digital version of a patient’s medical record, EHRs are secure, software-based solutions that provide access only to authorized users, such as patients, their clinician, and family members, in real time. EHRs pervade and interconnect the whole healthcare ecosystem.
Here is an example of how EHR software works to monitor patients-
Step 1- The patient seeks medical attention. On visiting a healthcare center, they provide information about previous medical treatments, surgeries, allergies, and other personal details when they check-in. The patient is subsequently given access to their online medical account, where they can view information about their visit, appointments, and medications, among other things.
Step 2- Using a scheduling system, the front office receptionist schedules an appointment with the physician. The technology syncs with the physician’s schedule to find the best time for the next appointment.
Step 3- The physician receives an appointment reminder and reviews the patient's personal information in an electronic chart. After the patient’s visit, the physician enters the diagnosis, a step-by-step plan for the next steps, and prescriptions into the digital record.
Step 4- The prescriptions are sent to the pharmacy by the system. The latter begins putting together the order so that it is ready when the patient arrives.
Step 5- The bill is generated automatically by the EHR platform and is handed to the patient by the accounts department at the healthcare facility.
Step 6- The system generates the insurance claim, verifying that its format complies with the patient's insurance provider's requirements.
Step 7- If a patient requires lab testing, the medical laboratory may be given access to the EHR as well. On request, a physician can see the test findings.
Advantages of EHR/EMR system
Access Patient information 24/7
EHRs provide healthcare workers with instant access to the most up-to-date information about their patients. While there is still scope for further improvement in the creation of EHRs, the transformation from paper-based records — with their difficult-to-read information and widely varying formats — to electronic records, which can be accessed quickly across healthcare organizations, represents a technical leap forward.
Health Management reporting-
You may get all the information you need in an EHR database, such as how many diabetics have elevated HbA1c levels before the age of 7 or how many cases of tuberculosis were cured in a particular year or time.
Digital records of patients are easy to read
The uniformity of format and lesser manual intervention ensures that critical records such as diagnostic reports are easy to interpret and reduces the chances of making errors.
Improved processing speed
Inclusion of patients in the EHR increases the processing efficiency and speed of updates in the EHR system. This gives clinicians vital real-time insights to suggest necessary changes to the treatment plans of their patients.
Remote patient monitoring is evolving through the use of EHRs and has immense potential to take telehealth services to the next level. Therefore, it is imperative that the technologies and tools used in remote patient monitoring and EHR be nurtured and advanced to ensure equitable access to healthcare services for patients across geographies.