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What Is Remote Patient Care Monitoring?

Technology has had a significant impact on healthcare delivery. One promising advancement is remote patient care monitoring, which electronically collects data from a patient and then transfers it to a healthcare provider or monitoring center. Without geographic limitations, this form of telemedicine can offer more extensive and timely care to patients in rural areas — or to patients who are too ill to travel. Nurses enrolled in an online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program can expect to learn more about remote monitoring nursing opportunities.

How It Works

According to the Center for Connected Health Policy, remote patient care monitoring — sometimes called telemonitoring — is the use of “digital technologies to collect medical and other forms of health data from individuals in one location and electronically transmit that information securely to healthcare providers in a different location for assessment and recommendations.” Remote monitoring may rely on multiple forms of technology including smartphones, tablets, landlines, email and other web-based tools and software applications.

Home health organizations may use remote monitoring to track vital signs, heart rhythms or other specific measurements such as glucose levels. This is particularly helpful for patients who have difficulty traveling for appointments and check-ups. Home health nurses can monitor the patient’s status between visits and make adjustments to treatment plans more quickly. Telemedicine technology may also allow nurses to make fewer visits to the patient’s home, decreasing the overall cost of care.

The success of any remote monitoring program depends upon the devices it uses to collect data. According to InformationWeek, in 2013 alone, investments in telemonitoring technology totaled more than $100 million. These devices may allow nurses and healthcare providers to track cardiac and pulmonary function, sleep patterns, breathing rates and more. Some devices are even motion-enabled, documenting when doors close or toilets flush. Data submission is automatic, which minimizes user error. Healthcare providers or monitoring centers can then review the information.

Remote Monitoring Benefits

What is remote patient care monitoring?

As the industry shifts to value-based reimbursement, healthcare providers and hospitals are under more pressure to improve patient outcomes and quality metrics. Telemedicine technology offers a solution. With the ability to monitor several key health indicators regardless of location, healthcare providers can intervene and adjust medications and treatment plans in real time without the complications that may occur while patients wait for appointments.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 46 million people in the U.S. live in rural areas. Rural settings, on average, have fewer healthcare providers than urban areas: 68 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents, compared to 84 in urban areas (Robert Graham Center). Remote patient care monitoring can relieve the burden of traveling great distances, especially for disabled or chronically ill patients who find traveling an anxiety-inducing endeavor.

Improving access to care can also reduce hospital admissions and readmissions as well as the length of hospital stays. According to the Center for Connected Health Policy, A 2015 study found that COPD and heart failure patients who participated in a telemonitoring program saw a 50 percent reduction in readmissions.

Monitoring patients in their homes can help them retain their independence, improve their quality of life, and lead to more cost-effective care. TechTarget reports that the healthcare industry can save as much as $700 billion over the next two decades by utilizing remote monitoring and electronic health records.

Looking Ahead

Technological advances have made remote patient care monitoring more effective for a growing number of patients. Patients confined to their homes, residing in rural areas or chronically ill may find this type of monitoring particularly beneficial. BSN-prepared nurses may discover that telemonitoring employment opportunities can lead to a unique and rewarding career.

Learn more about the UT Arlington online RN to BSN program.


Sources:

Healthcare Access in Rural Communities. (2014, October 31). Rural Health Information Hub

Petterson, S. M., Phillips, R. L., Jr., Bazemore, A. W., & Koinis, G. T. (2013, June 1). Unequal Distribution of the U.S. Primary Care Workforce. Robert Graham Center

Population & Migration. (2016, May 6). United States Department of Agriculture

Remote Patient Monitoring. (n.d.). Center for Connected Health Policy

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM). (2014, November). TechTarget

Rudansky, A. K. (2013, July 30). Remote Patient Monitoring: 9 Promising Technologies. InformationWeek


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