Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers were exploring a new model of care. One whereby a service user could monitor medical conditions and lifestyle away from institutional settings. And where the patient could live where most wanted to be – at home.
There are many reasons for this shift in thinking about patient care. Chiefly, institutions such as hospitals and clinics are under constant pressure in terms of their capacity. In addition, the burden on their staff and resources is huge. Being able to monitor patients living independently at home frees up institutional capacity for those needing more serious and acute care.
When the pandemic struck, the advantages of such a new model became increasingly apparent. Now, although the pandemic is receding in many countries, the imperative to develop and roll out this model has been heightened.
What is remote patient monitoring?
To build this new model, healthcare providers would have to rely heavily on new technology to achieve it. In particular, they would have to invest in remote patient monitoring (RPM). These are networks of devices and tracking gadgets that could provide real-time reporting of numerous aspects of a user’s medical condition and lifestyle. These devices can electronically transmit this information to healthcare providers for assessment. And, when necessary, can be used to formulate recommendations for medical intervention and care.
RPM is an efficient and effective way for health providers to closely monitor a patient’s chronic health conditions. Without requiring the patient to physically visit a hospital or clinic. Thanks to the benefits of RPM, healthcare providers and users find that managing these chronic conditions is often much easier than would ever be possible under the traditional model of healthcare.
It was also understood that if healthcare providers could reduce costs on their systems by introducing RPM, they might also be able to devote more money and resources to the prevention of conditions. This would, in turn, bring another big cost saving on the health system.
How does remote patient monitoring work?
This is the remote patient monitoring operational process:
1.) A healthcare provider identifies the condition to manage remotely and suggests it to the user. RPM can collect a wide range of patient health data. This in including blood pressure, heart rate, vital signs, weight, and blood sugar levels.
2.) Once an agreed need is in place, the system can be ordered with the patient’s consent. It may include blood pressure monitors, weight scales, blood glucose meters, and spirometers, as well as, less frequently, pulse oximeters and ECG machines.
3.) Devices are provided to the patient to facilitate RPM. These devices must be electronically connected, which very often means connecting them to a mobile network.
4.) Once the devices have been set up, providers can capture and transmit health data
5.) The healthcare provider can then use this data to give the patient guidance on their health and wellbeing and prescribe new interventions if necessary.
Challenges for health providers in delivering remote patient monitoring
To deliver RPM, the healthcare provider will typically have to do a number of things to ensure it works correctly:
- They will have to conduct a site survey to ascertain that connectivity will be sufficient and reliable enough
- They’ll have to consider which kind of mobile technology to use – 2G, 3G, 4G or 5G. It’s important to bear in mind that later technologies are typically up to 3 or 4 times more expensive than earlier ones. However, 2G and 3G are soon to disappear from networks
- They’ll have to consider whether voice functionality is essential. Voice functionality is incredibly beneficial to the patient, not only in helping them to have two-way conversations with health professionals but also in keeping them connected with their family and friends, warding off the problems of social isolation and supporting mental health
Remote patient monitoring, and how OV can help
As we’ve seen, remote patient monitoring requires significant technical challenges to be overcome if it is to be successful. The greatest of these is the reliability issue. Healthcare providers can only offer a network of monitoring devices to patients if they have complete confidence that both data and voice functionality will operate correctly every time it’s needed.
OV provide a multi-network platform that can access all of the UK’s mobile networks, meaning that reliable, consistent connectivity is guaranteed. This eliminates the need for a site survey. Our multi-network offering also means that providers can integrate cheaper 2G or 3G technology, in the knowledge that as long as at least one UK mobile network continues to offer this service, connectivity is assured. And thanks to OV, voice functionality is built-in, meaning that providers won’t have to design their own voice platform.
All of this provides patients and their carers with the reassurance of knowing that both data and voice devices will always do the job they’re designed to do – keeping the patient connected and safe.
If you’re a healthcare provider who’s looking to deploy remote patient monitoring for your service users, OV can help. Just and we’ll get together for an initial chat.