Healthcare News & Insights

Remote patient monitoring gains strides in hospitals

Many facilities are turning to continuous health monitoring using telemedicine to help patients have a complication-free recovery from their illnesses. The technology to monitor patients remotely is getting more advanced every day, and it’s becoming more accessible for hospitals as well. 

One Michigan-based health system is offering remote monitoring services to hospital patients admitted to home healthcare agencies in hopes of reducing their readmissions rates.

The initiative, known as the Home Care Connect program, is described in an article from Hospitals & Health Networks.

Through the program, selected patients will receive a 4G-enabled Apple tablet that will help providers continually monitor their health and conduct virtual telehealth visits through FaceTime.

The tablet connects with various wireless health devices to collect data about each patient’s blood pressure, weight and other critical vital signs. Patients also have the ability to self-report their own health data, and nurses will contact them if anything seems amiss.

Because all the equipment is connected directly to the hospital’s electronic health records (EHR) system, health data can be immediately saved in each patient’s medical record, so providers can spot trends and head off any potential complications.

While the Home Care Connect program will only start in a handful of areas, Trinity Health plans to expand it to all patients approved for home health care. Eventually, it’ll even use the program for its coordinated care programs to improve outcomes for patients who aren’t receiving home health care.

Advances make it easier

Some patients may balk at having to use telehealth technology after leaving the hospital, but it’s becoming much less obtrusive and more intuitive. And many companies are at the forefront of creating new technology to improve telemedicine.

Example: IBM is developing a hub for patients’ health wearables that’ll help bridge the gap between unfamiliar technology and remote health monitoring.

According to an article from PC World, the device automatically grabs data from wearables many patients are more familiar with, such as smart watches and Fitbits, and analyzes it through IBM Cloud. Then the results are shared with patients and doctors, with little effort on their parts.

All patients have to do is touch the device to find out information about their health data, eliminating the need to look at multiple wearables. It’s also designed to respond to voice commands for patients’ convenience.

The device is small, about the size of a grapefruit. But eventually, IBM plans to make it even smaller – to the point where it can fit inside a patient’s ear canal. If the device is less obtrusive, patients may be more comfortable with using it to transmit their health information to providers.

As technology options expand and telemedicine grows in popularity, it’s important for hospitals to start looking into what they need to do to provide telehealth and remote monitoring services to patients, whether it’s improving their internal networks or allocating more money toward technology upgrades.

It’s critical for facilities to have the ability to keep tabs on patients’ recovery outside the hospital via remote monitoring. Taking advantage of this technology can reduce patients’ length of stay, as well as lower rates of readmissions and complications after discharge, which helps boost hospitals’ quality of care overall.

 

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