Category: >> Healthcare Technology

Can Remote Patient Monitoring Improve Post-Surgical Care and Recovery?

April 29, 2022

Every individual deserves the best of healthcare – from quick and accurate diagnoses to continued health monitoring and timely health insights. Remote patient monitoring has facilitated this, along with enhanced healthcare, that includes steadfast assessment features and remote access to most healthcare services. It has enabled a quick diagnosis of chronic conditions, definitive preventive measures to tackle them, and a reduced cost in overall long-term healthcare expenses. However, there is still plenty of scope to explore the entire potential of remote monitoring. For instance, a large area around whether remote patient monitoring can improve post-surgical care and recovery is still untapped.

A patient’s surgery can be daunting and post-surgery recovery can be overwhelming. As a patient, you will need to remember the long list of post-discharge medications and your medical practitioner’s verbal instructions to ensure effective aftercare. An improper post-discharge recovery can lead to severe post-surgical complications and even readmissions. Remote patient monitoring has proven to alleviate the patient’s stress around post-surgery recovery care by offering reliable features. Some of them include increased communication between the medical practitioner and patient, automated reminders, cautionary alerts based on constant monitoring, and effective at-home care without additional readmissions. Studies have proven the efficiency of remote patient monitoring in post-surgical care and the technology will continue to show steady growth.

What research indicates…

Post-operative remote care is still under scrutiny and a subject of scholastic research. However, most of the fact-finding has shown positive results. 

  • A study was conducted by a group of healthcare professionals to test the efficiency of post-discharge after surgery virtual care with Remote Automated Monitoring (RAM). The results were promising with a higher detection rate for drug errors.
  • Research published in the National Library of Medicine showed a reduction in the number of emergency department visits and readmissions in post-surgery patients, along with an improved quality of life.
  • The National Library of Medicine also published a study on post-operative care in cardiac patients who underwent monitoring using remote devices. The primary benefit of the remote monitoring system was that many hospital readmissions were avoided, saving patients additional costs. This was only possible due to the accurate measurements of vital parameters and quick responses to the hospital application requests. Moreover, about 6.1% of serious medical complications were averted due to an early diagnosis by remote devices.

Benefits of remote patient monitoring for post-surgical care and recovery

These studies offer concrete proof of the reliability of remote monitoring systems and wearable devices in efficiently managing post-operative care. Patients can now avoid the excess hospital charges by remaining at home and avoiding readmissions. The telemedicine system promises to deliver the following post-operative care features to every individual patient:

  • Constant communication with their medical practitioner
    The pandemic proved how crucial alternate means of communication were, especially in the healthcare sector. The ability to stay in touch with your doctor or nurse, as and when the need arises, can be a life-saver. It saves crucial time that can be lost in transportation and is accessible to patients even in the more remote areas. Instead of piling the patient with post-surgery instruction booklets, the doctors can guide them remotely in a planned manner. Moreover, they can be easily notified of any unforeseen changes or side effects during recovery.
  • Constant monitoring
    The remote patient monitoring system comes equipped with wearable devices and other tools to measure vitals that can enable constant monitoring. The devices can track patient compliance, symptoms, and recovery progress by assessing temperature, pain levels, incision photos, etc. They can then transmit this data to the healthcare practitioner to encourage quick interventions in case of an emergency. This can save time that would be wasted on transportation and in the waiting rooms of clinics and hospitals.
  • Self-care alerts for patients
    The remote devices can also be programmed to offer self-care guidance and automated workflows that rely on AI. For instance, the device can offer periodic reminders to take medications, change the dressing, or provide first-aid solutions to minor emergencies. 

Post-operative remote monitoring has grown exponentially during the pandemic, due to the incessant demand for no-contact care. At UCLA, patients who have undergone heart surgery can benefit from their Cardiac Telehealth Program. The program offers constant monitoring and instant relaying of crucial health data to the medical staff. Apart from that, the patient can electronically send daily recovery updates, pictures of the incision site, and other important data such as weight, height, heart rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels using the tools provided with the program kit.

According to statistics, 88% of patients from a US target group did opt for remote healthcare in 2021 and around 4% were even willing to switch doctors for this. Patients want the best care that they can receive and remote patient monitoring offers this at a reduced cost in the long term. Being connected to your healthcare service providers and digitally tracking your vitals can really help mitigate post-surgery distress, especially for patients who live by themselves.

Read more about the top healthcare technology trends in 2022.

 


Facts About Wearable Medical Devices And Remote Patient Monitoring That May Surprise You

April 11, 2022

Remote or wearable patient monitoring devices have revolutionized healthcare, enhancing the quality of people’s lives. Whether it is the tracking of steps, counting calories burned, or sending emergency distress signals to the closest healthcare facilities, these devices can do it all. Remote patient monitoring has shown significant improvements in immediate and effective patient care by ensuring constant connectivity between patients and physicians. Moreover, this healthcare system has evolved over time to provide improved outcomes in patient monitoring at reduced costs.

The digitization of healthcare, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, has really surprised us with some smart healthcare. Statistics show that at least 45 million US patients are currently relying on remote patient monitoring as of 2022 and the number could touch 80 million by 2025. The technology is still nascent and has a long way to go. Meanwhile, here are some facts about wearable medical devices and remote patient monitoring that may surprise you:

Prediction and prevention of certain conditions

According to a survey by the CDC, the US currently spends around $3.5 trillion on treating chronic and mental health conditions. In the US, 1 out of 3 deaths every year are due to heart diseases and stroke, more than 34 million people are living with diabetes and $50 billion is spent annually on mitigating chronic lung issues. Remote patient monitoring can help predict certain health conditions such as diabetes and eventually prevent them through valuable feedback and timely inputs. This is backed up by research conducted by KLAS that surveyed 25 healthcare organizations. Of these, 38% reported a reduction in admissions related to chronic conditions.

One example of preventative monitoring is a wrist device that can prevent nausea and pregnancy-related morning sickness. The FDA-cleared device performs this function through effective neuromodulation. Another project under work is trying to create embedded breast patches to aid in the quick detection of breast cancer through breast tissue monitoring. 

It can easily transmit data over the internet

This is not a biggie, but a really fascinating insight into how the remote patient monitoring technology really works. Wearable devices can be tweaked as per the individual patient’s needs and conditions to monitor specific data. This data is then compiled and a summary is sent to medical professionals and even off-site monitoring centers, that then offer quick recommendations or solutions. This method of data transmission can make healthcare so much more accessible. According to statistics, 88% of patients from a US target group did opt for remote healthcare in 2021 and around 4% are even willing to switch doctors for this.

Efficiently track your blood sugar levels

If you were one to believe that wearable and remote patient monitoring devices could be used just to count your steps and blood pressure, this one is for you. The devices can effectively help you manage diabetes by constantly monitoring your blood sugar levels and updating you with any changes. Moreover, it can also track medication effects, progress on treatment goals, and add suggestions for follow-up appointments. Apart from this, remote monitoring can further be tweaked with devices that test for anticoagulation, perform an ECG, monitor maternity and pediatric care, check blood oxygen levels and even track weight.

Mental Health tracking

Mental health care is still largely sidelined and inaccessible in the US. About 19.8% of adults and 15% of adolescents in the US reported having mental health conditions between 2021 and 2022.  About 60% of the youth and 56% of adults did not receive any medical treatment Over time, the number of adults experiencing suicidal thoughts (about 5%) or death by suicide has also been on the rise. Wearable devices can effectively monitor extreme weight loss/gain, frequent irregularities in heartbeat, and motion tracking to detect psychomotor agitation and retardation to effectively predict mental well-being. According to experts, these are some of the most crucial indicators of mental distress and mental health conditions ranging from anxiety and depression to PTSD, bipolar disorder, and even schizophrenia. 

The first RPM was in space

Remote patient monitoring took birth somewhere in the 19th century when physicians began conversing and consulting on the phone. Over time, x-rays were being sent on the wire, neurological exams began being electronically transmitted, and psychiatric consultations were sent through pay-per-view TV. The first patient to be monitored remotely however was Alan Shepherd, the first American in space. In 1961, Shepherd’s vitals were being monitored through an EKG, respiratory sensors, and thermometers. Today, the technology has grown to monitor patients for all kinds of conditions from the comfort of their homes.

The cost of RPM

According to research,  the global RPM systems market is projected to be worth over $1.7 billion by 2027. That is a whopping 128% increment from the market’s current statistics. However, despite such a high valuation, remote patient monitoring systems continue to remain cost-effective. Reduction in the cost of commute and a decrease in the number of hospital readmissions can make healthcare much more feasible. Moreover, with effective monitoring, the time required for physicians to make accurate diagnoses also reduces. The university medical center in  Mississippi implemented the Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network. In the first year of its implementation, the cost savings were estimated to be $339,184 per patient. 

Telemedicine and remote patient monitoring systems still have a long way to go. However, the current progress is indicative of how far it has come and how much easier it would make healthcare for everyone. That said, patients and physicians need to be clear on their goals and how they can achieve them since one can never be entirely dependent on RPM, yet. 

Read about the top healthcare technology trends in 2022 on our blog.

 


Top Healthcare Technology Trends in 2022

February 10, 2022

The healthcare industry is eternally evolving, such as digitizing medicine to make it more accessible and efficient and revamping it to fight illnesses better. However, the last 2 years has taught us that the healthcare industry can be better. This has encouraged many tech and pharmaceutical companies to put more effort into overcoming past challenges. Healthcare and technology going hand in hand to overcome the global pandemic have led to several major changes in the sector. Whether you are a healthcare provider, a patient, or an insurance company, these healthcare technology trends will make your 2022 better. 

Interoperability to the rescue!

The current global pandemic demanded social distancing between people. Interoperability promises to help make doing that easier. A system where various healthcare-related units such as pharmacies, clinics, hospitals, insurance agencies function as one digital unit will be a win-win for everyone. You will be able to access all your data on your device without having to visit any of these institutions unless it’s extremely inevitable. However, interoperability has faced many challenges in its execution. Several tech and healthcare companies are making efforts to overcome it. Experts are expecting it to take better shape in 2022, which will do wonders for all parties involved.

Telemedicine will take center-stage

Telemedicine has been in the works for a long time, and the pandemic created the urgent need for accessible healthcare. According to WHO, almost 50% of the world population is still deprived of it. A study by Forbes suggested that 43% of medical consultations during the first few months of the pandemic were remote, i.e. online. Apart from that, a lot of COVID patients were suggested, or pushed, to recover at home. Telemedicine can help them by creating a centralized communication system such that healthcare providers can offer virtual care in real-time. Apart from that, encouraging patients to wear health-tracking devices to detect heart rate, stress, and blood oxygen levels can also make it easier for professionals to monitor them. The only major hurdle that telemedicine currently faces is people’s adjustment to it, since many patients still prefer an in-person interaction over an online one.

Welcoming the AI

The data inflow and exchange in healthcare is tremendous. The burden that it put on healthcare providers during the pandemic could have easily been dealt with by an AI system. It can send out the entire database of medical updates in the world,  such as information related to COVID, necessary precautions, symptoms, distribution of vaccines, and anything else that could be important, a lot more efficiently. Along with that, AI in healthcare can make a huge impact on interoperability, helping workers deal with CT scans, X-Ray, and MRI imaging. It could serve to help take the administrative load off of healthcare providers. Telemedicine could employ AI as a way of communicating with patients about their symptoms and relaying this data to the concerned doctors. This could help save patients and doctors a lot of time. 

Preventative Medicine

What if you knew where the next outbreak was going to happen or what the risk factors were for the health of the population of your area?  Preventative medicine aims at predicting diseases before they are contracted. A well-developed and smart AI could help identify events such as the next outbreak, how healthcare institutions can prepare for it, health risk factors for various geographical populations, and so on. History shows that outbreaks are inevitable but AI could help humanity manage them better. Not just that, it could assess populations to predict lifestyle diseases and mental health conditions too provided the population provides accurate data. Healthcare professionals hope to make health management and illness prediction more efficient in 2022 helping change lives for the better.

A (robotic) helping hand

Plenty of eager startups worldwide are investing time and money into revolutionizing robotic systems. The goal is to enable robots to help understaffed hospitals overcome the challenge they face when offering care. Surgical robots have been around since the 1980s and this year expects them to get better at mitigating risks and expediting recovery time. Autonomous robots can further this by taking up cleaning, transportation, and disinfection tasks. A study said that they could also be utilized to help admitted patients take their medicines on time, and even communicate with them. The idea is to reduce the pressure on the human workforce by delegating it to a robot.

Finding that finesse through AR / VR

For those who might not know, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) involve lenses and headsets that help create an altered world. This can either be entirely virtual (VR) or an overlaying of virtual elements of the world in real-time (AR). This can be of tremendous help to both surgeons and patients alike. Surgeons would be able to train without fear of putting the lives of patients at risk or using cadavers. A lot of healthcare institutions are looking to make AR / VR a part of their systems. Moreover, AR / VR systems have also been known to help patients with mental conditions such as psychosis, autism, and phobias. They can help create a safe and comfortable environment for them to help them work through their fears with much more ease. AR / VR systems can help other professionals associated with the healthcare industry too. For instance, an AR-integrated device can help create a traffic-free path for an ambulance or provide patients with directions to the nearest clinics or hospitals. 

Personalized medicine

With the help of AI and genomics (the study of genes), medicine will see a more tailored approach in its production. This means that prescription drugs will be modified to help people individually instead of aiming to treat a larger population. This can help mitigate allergies and cure other medical conditions such as  Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, and so on. This year will also see an increased investment in Nutrigenomics, a field that will help design diet plans based on your genetic dispositions. Read our post on Remote Patient Monitoring.


Interoperability in healthcare

Interoperability in healthcare – challenges, solutions, and the future

December 23, 2021

Healthcare in today’s day and age has grown multifold, offering the best medical facilities to patients. As an organization providing healthcare solutions – be it a clinic, a hospital or a pharmacy, keeping all your services linked can get hard. Interoperability in healthcare is an ideal way out from the tangled mess of organising your patients’ data for them. This system can help the multiple departments of your healthcare organization or entirely different collaborating organizations function as one unit and be beneficial for your business in many ways. That said, given the current pandemic situation, interoperability can also help reduce physical contact between the patient and the various service providers. However, it does come with its own set of unique challenges which can definitely be tackled without much fuss. 

What are the benefits of interoperability?

For healthcare service providers

As said before, interoperability helps you unify your business. Once you have the system running, it can help save a lot of time on the back and forth that can happen between two departments; say, the pharmacy of your clinic and the billing system. Moreover, if you’re an organization aiming to provide your patients with multiple services such as operation or treatment aftercare, routine checkups, financial management and so on, running everything can get cumbersome. Interoperability can help you serve your patients better. Added to this is the benefit of efficiency. A unified system can give you more space to grow and connect with more organizations that complement your goals. Your patients can now get timely treatment enhanced by the data you collect via a patient’s mobile phone, wearable device, telehealth checkups, online prescriptions and medical bills that can be sent directly to a pharmacy from the clinic/ hospital and so much more. Lastly, interoperability can take your clinic to a global level by enhancing the quality of care you provide and in the process also save you millions.

For Patients 

As a patient, interoperability saves you the trouble of having to repeat your medical history to multiple practitioners. You can be assured that all your data – be it medications, allergies, conditions, tests or doctor’s who’ve treated you – will be stored in one encrypted corner for you to access when need be. A healthcare organization that provides you with this service can help save you a lot of time. Furthermore, you can also effortlessly connect with your pharmacy, insurance provider and the hospital billing to keep track of your expenses and bill payments. By remembering all your medical data for you, it’ll save you some bucks that would have otherwise been spent on discussing it with new doctors. 

For others

Interoperability can be a big help to pharmacies. They can now receive prescriptions from the healthcare providers and ensure that they’re always stocked for the same. Pharmacies that deliver medications to domiciles of patients can also use this option to upgrade their services. Apart from that, it can also be helpful to specialty pharmacies that undertake routine checkups, follow-up visits and offer other such medical services. Apart from that, interoperability can also help a clinic’s administrative staff segregate and store the information of the patient better which in turn helps avoid any errors on their part.

What about the challenges in interoperability?

Interoperability in simple terms is the ability to integrate multiple services into one entity to expedite data transfer. Despite its many advantages, not many clinics have been able to successfully inculcate it into their systems. In the US, less than 40 % of clinics have attempted to utilise it and have partially managed to share the data with other organizations. There are a handful of factors that hamper with the success of interoperability, the primary being the standards of use. Each organization has a different standard at which they operate. Bringing together such organizations  under a common system can get difficult and sharing data with them more so. The mode of operation can vary in the means of storing data, the format of retaining information and even the use of language in doing so. 

Secondly, when multiple organizations collaborate in one single system, the data gets too much to handle depending on the size of these organizations. If a pharmacy is exchanging data with more than one hospital for instance, there could be an overload of data in its system. This could decelerate the workflow of the pharmacy instead of expediting it. 

Lastly, corruption and lack of knowledge or resources also affect the success of interoperability. Some providers can input incorrect or faulty data for their personal gains which can affect the quality of services that the patient receives. Apart from that, there is also a possibility that providers can restrict information – in a process known as ‘information blocking’ – until the receiver pays a certain amount to be able to access it. Insurers can also sometimes be hesitant to provide a patient’s treatment and claim history to medical professionals. Apart from that a lot of providers are either rigid on sticking to the traditional systems or are unaware of the possibilities within interoperability. Moreover, the lack of financial resources for many organizations prevents them from investing in the same as well. Even if an organization does become a part of the system, its operators could lack the skills to exploit it in the best way possible. 

Is there a way to overcome these challenges?

  • To start off, government funding towards standardizing interoperability in healthcare service providers could be helpful. 
  • Secondly, usage of data integration tools and healthcare analytics solutions could help overcome the obstacle of data overload. These help with not just efficient allocation of resources but also cost-reduction for the healthcare service. 
  • There also needs to be a standardization of the language used by the various integrated healthcare service providers. This can help avoid any misunderstanding and make interoperability more efficient by making it readable to both the sender and receiver as well as the computer. 
  • Educating the operators on the availability of API (Application Programming Interface), AI (Artificial Intelligence) and healthcare analytics tools and on its utilization is crucial. They should also be made aware of the benefits of interoperability with regards to convenience and cost-cutting.
  • Organizations standardizing interoperability need to also establish a privacy policy that has been agreed upon by all collaborators involved. Along with that, the interface for the interoperability software needs to be made user-friendly.

How Do Wearables in Healthcare Shape the Empowerment of Patients and Providers?

November 1, 2021

Wearable technology is changing the way people monitor and manage their health. Devices like smartwatches, medical bracelets, and downloadable medical apps are now used for a myriad of reasons – from clinical trials to managing a patients’ chronic condition.

Wearables connect patients with healthcare providers

Wearable devices have become ubiquitous, and appear to be revolutionary in the administration of healthcare. These wearables include small, sleek wristbands (such as Apple Watch and FitBit) to accelerometers, gyroscopes and wearable cameras. They expand the potential of data collection and can record much more than just heart rate and blood pressure data.

These devices share data with healthcare providers, such as doctors and care nurses, allowing them to increase their efficiency, improve quality of care and improve patient outcomes. When wearable technology is integrated with a patient’s life as well as with their medical history and family health records, the data collected greatly helps in getting an accurate diagnosis. This further assists in writing a prescription that’s tailored to an individual’s condition.

 What are some wearable devices in healthcare?

The future of wearables shows no sign of slowing down as the demand for patients to monitor their own health is increasing. Current examples of wearables in healthcare include:

  • Wearable fitness trackers – such as wristbands equipped with sensors to track patients’ vitals.
  • Smart Health Watches – that allow users to perform tasks they would normally do on their phones – such as making calls and sending messages, while offering some health-tracking benefits.
  • Wearable ECG Monitors – can track pace, distance, elevation as well as walking, running, biking etc. They measure an electrocardiogram and send readings to the patients’ doctor.
  • Wearable Blood Pressure Monitor – may look like a typical watch, but can measure blood pressure and track daily activity.
  • Biosensors – are self-adhesive patches that allow patients to move around, while collecting data on their movement – such as temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate.

 Benefits of wearable devices in healthcare

  • Health Monitoring – From your heart rate to sleep patterns, wearables come in handy to keep your health in check and to monitor health-related goals. Individuals use them to keep track of their general wellness, to follow a diet, as well as to remember to take medication on time.

 

  • Helps Manage Chronic illnesses – Being technologically advanced and relatively affordable, wearables have been extremely handy to monitor conditions like Asthma, Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis and Hemophilia. They empower patients to monitor and subsequently take control of their healthcare, minimizing the need for daily or weekly checkups.

 

  • Boosts Mental Health and Physical Fitness – By making patients feel more aware of themselves and their daily activities, they provide a sense of achievement and instant feedback. Data from wearable devices can be used to create graphs so that one can see progress towards one’s goals.

 

  • Future Applications – Today, wearables are used for patient monitoring and disease management, however their potential as a low cost means to improve the quality of patient care is immense. They can be integrated with electronic medical records (EMRs) to provide personalized preventable strategies and can provide information to the healthcare provider to spot warning signs before a serious event unfolds. They can help researchers learn about how various factors affect people’s lives and can therefore identify which patients are at-risk for developing certain chronic conditions.

 Mobile healthcare is growing in popularity

 In terms of mobile healthcare, patients download health apps on their mobile phones and use the various features of the app to keep track of health attributes. The Acuma Health app can be easily downloaded by patients to track their steps, sleep, log bleeds, record areas in their body where they are experiencing pain, etc. For patients with Epilepsy or a seizure disorder, the Inspyre by SmartMonitor can be downloaded on an Apple Watch or a Samsung watch to detect abnormal shaking movements and instantly alert the user’s contacts while also recording the data from the event for later review. By utilizing patient-fed information on apps, healthcare providers have a surveillance system with which they can stay up to date with patients on a real-time basis, allowing them to prevent, manage and treat diseases with ease.

The pandemic also accelerated the adoption of ‘remote care’ and, along with telehealth and digital check-ups, healthcare wearables have been helping healthcare providers monitor and manage patient progress (including physical, physiological, and biochemical parameters) from a distance.

 What’s at stake when implementing wearables?

Healthcare organizations can effectively implement wearables, but the first step involves communicating with patients and staff to stress on the shared objective of using them so as to avoid the many pitfalls of remote patient monitoring.

Before beginning to use healthcare devices, organizations need to assess potential risks – including authorization issues – and factor in effective defenses such as multi-factor authentication. Providers must also prepare to identify and remediate threats, as healthcare data can be prone to theft and breaches. Additionally, it is important to meet patient expectations around wearables and privacy, and incident recovery must be transparent with measures to reduce ongoing risk.

 What does the future hold?

With wearable healthcare technology surging, it encourages insurers, health providers and companies to take advantage of the benefits that these monitoring devices offer. Insurers can control the rising cost per patient by using wearables to increase the customer’s life value. The incentive for consumers is a reduction in hospital readmissions due to poorly managed personal health, and companies are seeing benefits in offering wearable health technology to employees by way of a healthier corporate culture and less turnover – 18%, as compared to 29%, according to Business Insider Intelligence.

To know more about how AI driven healthcare data management impacts the future of healthcare, head over to our blog. You can also follow us on Linkedin and Twitter for updates.


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