February is American Heart Month which encourages healthy living habits to improve heart health and to decrease the risk of heart disease. With heart disease being the number one killer in the U.S., its prevalence puts more attention on solutions to improve the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of this illness.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) gained popularity in the past year as a method of monitoring chronic disease patients. During the pandemic shutdown, many providers weren’t seeing patients and/or patients didn’t want to go to their physicians for fear of being exposed to COVID. For many cardiovascular disease patients, RPM became the solution and its value in improving outcomes became more evident. Now there is the realization that healthcare providers don’t always need to examine their patients in person and that, through RPM, can have access to patient’s readings through a digital platform.
RPM is being used with hypertension, heart failure and arrhythmias. Cardiac patients often require medication changes and data obtained from remote devices assists in identifying that need. Beyond simple disease management, RPM can be utilized to improve patient adherence, clinical trial monitoring, pre/post-op monitoring and predicting/preventing cardiac events. While RPM for improving cardiovascular disease management is not a new initiative, the technological advances and services available through some of today’s RPM systems allow for monitoring of cardiovascular patients both inside and outside of conventional healthcare settings. RPM provides physicians with the vital sign data needed for holistic monitoring of the patient’s condition and can help provide timely intervention to prevent costly acute episodes.
The American Heart Association supports evidence-based remote patient monitoring technologies. Its guidance policy for using RPM for better cardiovascular disease outcomes cites research documenting this:
- RPM may serve as a vital conduit for improving hypertension control and reducing the economic burden that stems from the costly hospital stays that result from acute events related to hypertension. Research has shown RPM can reduce systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure significantly, compared to usual care and self-monitoring alone.
- Although recent systematic reviews and meta analyses have shown a positive effect on heart failure-related admissions and mortality rates, more needs to be learned about the process by which RPM works to improve heart failure-related outcomes and the duration of follow-up for which it confers benefits.
- Atrial fibrillation is associated with an increased number of adverse outcomes such as stroke, heart failure, increased number of hospitalizations, and mortality. Therefore, an early diagnosis of this arrhythmia is crucial in order to adopt the most appropriate treatment strategy. According to non-randomized trials, RPM has the potential to improve outcomes by enabling accurate and early detection and decreasing all-cause mortality rates and hospitalizations.
Beyond these patient outcomes, cardiology practices and cardiology departments at large healthcare systems who are using WITHmyDOC’s RPM@Home kit tell us that it is an efficient way to deliver care and improve provider time management. This, in turn, helps reduce provider stress and burnout.
Our RPM@Home kit is ideal for cardiovascular monitoring. It uses a web-based intelligence platform to monitor patients and transmit real-time biometric data to healthcare providers to facilitate proactive intervention. The platform allows healthcare providers to review patients’ biometric data as frequently as needed – even daily – between office visits, making it easier to detect, diagnose and treat symptoms. Medical devices in the base kit are Bluetooth-enabled and include a pulse oximeter, a weight scale, and a blood pressure monitor. Additional devices available are a glucometer, a 24-hour continuous monitoring SpO2 sensor and an ECG/respiratory rate sensor. The RPM@Home kit also includes a 10-inch tablet that transmits vital data to the physicians’ office in real time and communicates critical alerts programmed for the individual patient. It is a patient-centric platform that is both device- and EHR-agnostic. The physician can set parameters for each patient’s vital signs which will trigger a critical alert if the patient’s vital signs fall out of their normal range. This allows for timely intervention, making a real difference in outcomes as well as avoiding a costly care episode.