South Florida Hospital News – April 2021
By Lois Thomson
“The technology is new, but of course patient care is not new. Modern healthcare demands the accurate measurement and analysis of data relevant to a patient’s condition and prognosis.” That is how Dr. Frank Astor describes WITHmyDOC, a software platform designed to optimize remote patient monitoring (RPM).
The “WITH” in WITHmyDOC stands for Web-based Intelligence Transforming Healthcare, and Dr. Astor explains it as a telehealth program that monitors a patient’s medical and lifestyle data, including vital signs such as weight, temperature, oxygen saturation, and blood glucose. “The RPMd® platform captures the data and has artificial intelligence within it, and it understands alerts, which means that when patients’ physiological measures are outside of their normal range, it is able to alert providers to the patients’ vital signs in real-time.”
Dr. Astor said that in addition to individual monitoring, RPM is an excellent tool for Population Health management to assess larger segments and groups of patients. Those patients may be included in accountable care organizations, community health centers, or large physician practices, and what the physician gains is better oversight of every single patient since they can be monitored at home. The physicians and providers can also look at chronic condition management, such as those grouped around congestive heart failure, diabetes, COPD, asthma, and hypertension. “If you follow these patients, you are able to help them maintain good health status, and thus avoid hospital admissions, re-admissions, or emergency department visits; and they can do so comfortably from their home on a real-time basis.”
WITHmyDOC patients are provided with wireless sensor kits to use at home to electronically record the vital signs that are to be monitored. For example, the O2 saturation sensor is a clip the patient puts on his or her finger to record the oxygen level; an EKG patch is put on the chest and it records tracing of the heart rhythm; the blood pressure sensor records the numbers directly into the system. The kit also includes a 10-inch tablet, which is used to capture and record information into the database. Dr. Astor said the platform is able to function with any type of Bluetooth-enabled sensor, as well as integrate with electronic health record systems. “We’re able to work with all EHRs and we are able to adapt and be flexible to them, so we’re able to collaborate with medical record-keeping.”
The WITHmyDOC program began prior to the pandemic in 2019, although Dr. Astor wasn’t on board from the beginning, as he explained: “There were some brilliant engineers and programmers involved, their expertise in IT platforms was bar none. But they needed medical feedback; they were able to construct a basic platform, but they required a physician to provide insight on where to go from there.” He joined the company in October 2020 as Chief Medical Officer and has been supporting the leaders working on the software platform. “I’m able to help them design an interface that is intuitive and friendly for providers, so they are able to see changes in vital-sign patterns effectively.
“I’m trying to have them understand what a clinician provider – who is probably overwhelmed and tired – needs to know at a glance so they are able to better understand every individual patient they are monitoring. From a client provider standpoint, I also meet with hospital executives, healthcare systems, and providers to understand their needs so they are able to apply the RPM technology efficiently in their practices. I’m able to be the mediator between our platform IT executives and the clinical needs on the other side.”
Dr. Astor said that in addition to observing patients, another benefit from the program is having the capability for patients to be monitored from home, which allows more hospital beds to be available for those who have a greater need. Providers are also able to control the number of patients they see, which can lessen the amount of burnout and frustration they face. “Providers are happier and more satisfied since they are able to deal with their daily assignment of patients in a more effective and efficient manner.”
Dr. Astor concluded: “I have seen the reactions of our clients and those we’ve presented to, and people are very impressed with our offering. It’s a real product where you’re able to help both physicians and the patients in their care. It’s exciting and I think we’re on the verge of offering a very different type of service for patients. We try to give that human medical touch that is so important, regardless of the interface and the way you approach the patient. I feel this is almost like a climax of what has been going on for a number of years in telemedicine.”