Health facilities are using remote monitoring technology to watch patients at home and in the hospital.
- The use of remote monitoring technology within the healthcare field can take several different forms. One of the more common uses is through specific devices that are given to patients for home use.
In an interview with RevCycleIntelligence.com, Denise Buxbaum, the manager of the nationally recognized Heart Failure Program at Essentia Health St. Mary’s-Heart and Vascular Center in Duluth, Minnesota, described one such program it uses. Patients with critical conditions are given a digital scale and use it every day. This is used because weight is a major factor for heart conditions and can be an early indicator for compliance of treatment and risk factors.
There are also a number of new devices hitting the marketplace that can be used to track health. Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first system for mobile medical applications for continuous glucose monitoring.
“This innovative technology has been eagerly awaited by the diabetes community, especially caregivers of children with diabetes who want to monitor their glucose levels remotely,” Alberto Gutierrez, Ph.D., director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in the release. “Today’s marketing permission paves the way for similar technologies to be marketed in the United States.”
Remote monitoring is also being used within the hospital. A recent article from the News Gazette, a media outlet in East Central Illinois, profiled Presence Covenant Medical Center. The health facility recently piloted a remote monitoring system to watch over patients with a higher risk of falling.
The medical specialists watch patients through the use of video and voice technology, as well as watch patients vital signs in real time. This allows one person, who could be located in a different city to watch over intensive care patients and immediately alert the care team if something was to go wrong. This also allows a personnel to be notified if a patient that is a falling risk is trying to get out of bed on their own, tell them to remain in their bed as help is on the way and allow hospital staff to intervene.
According to Dr. Jared Rogers, the CEO of Covenant and Presence United Samaritans Medical Center, the previous method of monitoring these types of patients was to have nurses monitor them from their bedside. However, this method can be “pretty labor-intensive.”
Since using remote monitoring, the hospital was able to prevent 15 patient falls in just under 70 days. While that number seems small, what it signifies is not. On average, one-third of patients who fall when at the hospital are injured, which extends the hospital stay by 6.3 days. That adds $14,000 to the cost of care. In the U.S., there are 11,000 patient falls annually that are fatal.