In today’s fast-paced world, chronic condition management can feel like a daunting task. Chronic conditions are currently one of the largest causes of mortality and recurring healthcare expenses and, according to the CDC, six in ten Americans live with at least one chronic condition. In most cases, a consistent effort toward recovery on the patient’s part can help alleviate the symptoms of several chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and asthma. However, due to several reasons, patients tend to not adhere to prescriptions and reverse any recovery that may have been done. This increases the number of hospital readmissions, puts the patient’s life at risk, and can put a larger financial burden on them as well. Apart from enabling accessibility from remote locations, remote patient monitoring has also helped offer chronic care to patients.
Remote patient monitoring enforces a patient’s recovery by offering constant reminders and tracking of vitals (blood pressure, blood glucose level, etc.) which encourages accountability on the patient’s part and keeps the healthcare provider in the loop as well. This way, not only is the patient expected to keep track of their own condition and recovery, but the physician is also constantly available to offer input wherever necessary. This has in turn led to a drastic reduction in the number of hospital readmissions, prevention of medical complications, and drug errors.
Here are some chronic conditions whose management using RPM services is being studied and has shown some positive results:
Hemophilia is a genetic chronic condition that affects the blood’s normal clotting process. Home therapy, which can include injecting plasma (clotting factor present in the blood), has so far encouraged independent management of this condition. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a study was conducted on patients in a European Hemophilia Comprehensive Care Centre (EHCCC). Despite the ongoing pandemic, results showed that remote patient monitoring improved access (79%), reduced inconvenience (82%), was easy to use (94%) and facilitated good communication with the HCP (97%). The technology helps patients monitor their bleeding and infusions, receive feedback in real time, and encourage compliance with medication. They also help patients stay connected with their friends and families, and people who have been diagnosed with the same condition as well.
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic condition wherein the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are affected. This leads to a loss in vision, pain, impaired muscle coordination and fatigue. It can be managed with physiotherapy and Immuno-suppressants depending on its severity. A study was conducted in 2017 to evaluate web-based patient-reported outcomes (wbPRO) in patients diagnosed with MS. Results showed that around 52% of patients reported a better understanding of their condition and around 16% wanted to continue with wbPRO content. They also got a better insight into certain mental symptoms such as depression. According to another research published in 2020, remote patient monitoring and telemedicine proved cost-effective and satisfactory for patients.
Epilepsy is chronic condition characterized by frequent seizures, loss of awareness, and unusual behavior in patients. While the frequency of seizures can often be reduced via medication and lifestyle changes, epilepsy still requires lifelong care. Remote patient monitoring can help create a steady and constant care system for individuals diagnosed with epilepsy. Research showed that remote patient monitoring has also helped patients with epilepsy get therapy despite the limitations imposed during the COVID pandemic. Another study published in 2021, showed the promise of the implementation of a remote electroencephalogram (EEG) test for epilepsy patients. The EEG test measures the electrical activity in the brain and with the use of a medical device and specially designed software, this data could reach the healthcare provider virtually. This helps not just patients who live in remote locations but also reduces the burden on neurologists through automated interpretation.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires constant monitoring of a patient’s blood sugar levels and intake of insulin injections. Remote patient monitoring can help with efficient management of diabetes through periodic reminders, constant updates and regular monitoring of blood sugar. A study published in 2019 showed that patients who participated in remote monitoring managed to keep their blood sugars at an average level. Moreover, these systems come equipped with glucose monitors that help patients stay aware of their hemoglobin A1C levels. Similar tools can also be utilized to offer better care to children with diabetes.
Hypertension is a chronic condition caused by constant high levels of blood pressure. There is plenty of research that has supported the benefits of remote patient monitoring in the management of hypertension. Some of the hurdles that patients with hypertension face are inconsistent blood pressure measurement techniques, their own lack of self-management, masked BP and incompetency of healthcare providers. A study published in 2021 showed a drastic reduction in the systolic BP of the urban-dwelling population with hypertension. More thorough research into the specific aspects of remote blood pressure monitoring can really help build on this. Another research published in January 2022 indicated a drastic 64% (343 of 552) response rate for clinicians to electronic health records (EHR). RPM prevents this condition from escalating by monitoring blood levels which were seen in 81% of the test subjects in a study in 2018.