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By Brandy Sons

Utilizing remote patient monitoring in the healthcare industry

We dangle technology from out fingertips every day. In a smart phone or tablet there is immediate access to email, social media, live streaming video, and a camera. Our devices access broadband via the internet and telecommunications, allowing us to make instantaneous contact with anyone around the world.

It's comes as no surprise that our health care industry is more proactive, managing patients health by means of Remote Patient Monitoring RPM, which is a wireless network designed with physicians and patients in mind.

Benefiting the most from RPM technology is the elderly and chronically ill. As long at these at risk patients are kept healthy, they are less likely to be readmitted to emergency rooms along including less lengthy hospitalizations, which cut down on health care costs.

Patient worn devices provide advanced warning by detecting small issues, which prevent them from becoming bigger, costlier issues.

This technology allows providers to keep in contact and track patients' health outside of the traditional doctor's office or hospital setting, which is convenient for patients and physicians.

An electronic device is worn by the patient that collects data such as vital signs including blood pressure and heart rate, monitors conditions like sleep apnea, and then wirelessly sends the information to a receiving end where it's reviewed and assessed by trained clinicians.

After patient data is reviewed it is determined whether further assessment is necessary or an alert is enabled for the patient to get care before the worsening of the condition.

Patients and providers consult with each other, remotely, by software which is installed through a computer, smart phone, or tablet.

So, why isn't this technology being utilized worldwide if it's cost effective and efficient?

Well, for starters, you have to be in an area where broadband is accessible. More remote, rural areas don't always have adequate access to broadband waves. That is vital key in the use of remote medical technology.

Patients that would likely benefit from the use of electronic monitoring devices live in these rural areas as well, so there poses the co-mingling of obstacles.

Not to mention, some doctors are set in their ways, which doesn't include the use of electronics. They aren't trained in the use of the devices themselves, nor trained in how to prescribe them to patients.

In addition, the techs that monitor the patient data must be trained in the technology itself, know how to respond if further action is required, and ensure the doctor is notified of the situation.

Actually responding to the alerts can prove challenging to a physician who is busy providing current care and making their patient rounds.

Another consideration, the patient is responsible for the quality of their care depending on their compliance. Meaning, if a patient is supposed to note their blood pressure via a reading from the device, and the patient does not send the results, then it falls on them and how their treatment is progressing.

Fortunately, the software assists by sending alerts or reminders to the patient to take their meds, exercise, or contribute pertinent information.

A patient must be informed on how to wear their device, where to affix it to, how to maintain it, and their role in monitoring for themselves.

Some devices may be placed under a bed, while others on certain areas of the body. Some monitors automatically update patient data, others require a patient to note any changes or symptoms and communicate it to their physician.

The future of remote patient monitoring is uncertain, there's simply not enough evidence to support the benefits or display the outcomes. The more patient/physician participate in wireless, medical technology as a tool for optimal health, the more the nation reaps benefits both fiscally and as proactive members in their own health care.

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