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What is Remote Monitoring?

There are two types of remote care monitoring; Remote Patient Monitoring and Medical Emergency monitoring. The difference between the two is in a) the frequency of data collection, b) the skills required to assess and respond to the data, and c) the speed of that response.

Remote patient monitoring

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a subset of telehealth and is inclusive of the collection, transmission, evaluation, and communication of relevant patient data by the use of electronic devices. Devices are wearable sensors and handheld instruments.

Remote patient monitoring is defined as a group of activities that meet these primary criteria:

  • Patients’ data is collected remotely, for example, while the client is at home and not in the sight of their healthcare provider.

  • The data collected has to be communicated or transferred to a care provider that is currently in another area.

  • There is an automatic assessment of the collected data, and the healthcare provider is notified of progress or decline as necessary.

How Does Remote Patient Monitoring Work?

Digital technology is used in remote monitoring to gather medical and health-related data from patients in one location then securely communicate it via electronic means to the relevant health care provider that is in a different location. Data can be transmitted for various purposes, such as for initial assessment or follow-up evaluations. Remote monitoring is especially helpful for physicians who need to monitor a discharged patient or one that is in a critical condition. Remote monitoring has been proven to be effective in helping with decreasing readmissions.

Remote patient monitoring provides the opportunity for different types of health data to be gathered. Data that can be collected includes blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, vital signs, weight, blood oxygen levels, and electrocardiograms. After collection, the data is communicated electronically to the necessary health professional, and in some cases, the data is sent to monitoring centres.

RPM centres are manned by skilled nursing resources. The data received from the remote monitoring devices help to guide the treatment plan and care plan for each client. Remote monitoring provides the opportunity for older and disabled persons to remain in their homes rather than to be sent to a care facility.

Emergency monitoring

Emergency alerts are monitored are professionally monitored by an emergency contact centre. Alerts are generated by smart devices, either wearables or sensors placed inside the residence, that can provide alerts any minute of the day. Constant monitoring main advantages are:

  1. Call centres can quickly assess the seriousness of the situation, to determine whether relatives or emergency services need to be contacted.

  2. They also reach out if they notice a change in the users typical behaviour (e.g. walking in unfamiliar areas or lack of movement).

  3. Not everybody has family or friends who can or like to be always on standby.

Depending on the individual response plan, the Emergency response centre reacts as soon as the device sends a signal. Having help on hand so quickly could get the user out of a bad situation and ensures they get the treatment they need, with no delays.

Response speed

Emergency responses are time-critical, especially compared to Remote Patient Monitoring, and its performance can be experienced in response speed and the quality of the response. So you should ask the question: “What should be the response time, and what is the quality of the response?” An average response under 30 seconds is good; a time of less than 15 sec is exceptional.

Quality of the Response

However, the quality of the interactions with emergency responders is what really important, as it determines the health outcome as well as the customer satisfaction. While responders follow a script and every person should be calm, speak clearly and always maintain a positive tone. They never should sound bored, in a rush or simply going through the motions.

Every responder should be asking if everything is okay, confirming the information they have and indicate when they are going to end the call and encourage them to activate the alarm if help is needed. These all may seem like minor details, but the difference really stands out when you're comparing ten medical alert services one after the other. This sort of service goes a long way towards alleviating the inherent anxiety for the end-user of calling an emergency.

You would like them to be well trained, have a sense of urgency and ownership, and follow a smooth process.

Capability & capacity to assess alerts, and urgency to respond

For RPM, nursing skills are required to assess the health data. The data collection is not continuously every minute of the day, and the client speed of decline is slow(er). Hence the RPM centre skills, capacity, and their urgency to respond to the alerts is very different from Emergency monitoring, they are manned by highly skilled staff, smaller in size and more expensive than Emergency monitoring centres.

For Emergency monitoring time is of essence. Capacity to respond need to be available 24 by 7, and their response to an alert should be within 30 seconds. The staff should be healthcare savvy but they can't be skilled nurses. Nursing are scare skills, nurses would be under utilising their skills for this type of alert monitoring, and the daily fee would be significantly higher than the current $0.50 a day.

Emergency monitoring centres are manned by highly savvy staff, larger in size and provide cheaper services than RPM centres.

Remote Monitoring During a Pandemic

During a pandemic, like COVID-19, restrictions are in place, many persons are finding it difficult to access healthcare as often as they usually do. However, remote monitoring technologies have made it easier for many care professionals to care for their clients without them having to leave home every few days. With remote monitoring, it is possible for care staff to remotely execute medical activities that typically are carried out in person.

With the current situation of patient overcrowding in hospitals globally due to Covid-19, remote monitoring can be an effective method of caring for non-COVID-19 patients.


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