Pooja Sharma—McMaster Life Sciences (Honours) 2023
Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability, causing two-thirds of deaths in Ontario1. 80% of adults over the age of 45 have a chronic condition and almost 70% suffer from more than one chronic condition1. As expected, this comes with an economic cost, one that costs the Canadian healthcare system millions, but also an even larger personal cost for patients.
The traditional health care model that most of us are accustomed to excepts patients to come in for in-person visits. However, this may not be possible for many patients as they are hindered by road blocks such as work schedules, travel time, mobility issues, weather and lack of transportation2. As a result, access to care is limited and many patients are left self-managing their fluctuating symptoms until their next doctor’s appointment, if they are even able to make it to one.
However, this might not be the case moving forward, as the healthcare sector, like many others, is quickly recognizing and adopting innovative solutions that are making the delivery of healthcare more convenient, timely, and cost-efficient for all stakeholders involved. One of the tools that the healthcare sector is turning to help bridge pre-existing gaps and facilitate care remotely is remote patient monitoring.
What is Remote Patient Monitoring?
Remote patient monitoring, a subset of telehealth, is a health care delivery model that leverages digital technology to monitor and record real-time patient health data outside of traditional healthcare settings such as the doctor’s office and/or the emergency room3. Undoubtedly, remote monitoring devices such as glucose meters, introduced decades ago, have allowed patients to monitor their blood sugar at home. However, remote patient monitoring adds new value as data is shared (through electronically connected devices) to health care providers to assess and recommend changes to treatment if any concerning results appear. As a result, data does not immediately dissipate after you are finished using your monitoring device, instead it remains in your health records and allows for patient-centered and data-driven care.
With increasing advances to technological innovations, there are many remote patient monitoring devices that providers may use to manage different health care conditions. However, the most common remote patient monitoring devices include weight monitors, blood pressures monitors, spirometers, and blood glucose meters4.
Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring
1. Increased Convenience and Accessibility
Remote patient monitoring programs bridge the gap of accessing care as it delivers care to patients regardless of their location and/or time. This allows patients with limited mobility, chronic conditions, and seniors to receive care in the comfort of their homes. Seniors aged 85 and older are the fastest growing population in Canada today, and over 78% of them want to be able to age in place in their homes5. Remote patient monitoring programs may be one part of the solution to helping them remain healthy and independent at home5.
2. Improved Quality of Care
Through remote patient monitoring programs healthcare practitioners have access to health data between visits which enables them to have a holistic understanding of the patient’s healthcare condition. As a result, they are able to alter treatment plans immediately in real-time. This leads to fewer emergency room visits, clinic visits, and hospitalizations6.
3. Prevents Spread of Infectious Disease
Remote patient monitoring is crucial in preventing infectious disease as patients would no longer need to visit in person to receive care and be unnecessarily exposed to healthcare settings where they could easily contract infections6. This was highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic as limiting human contact was crucial in preventing the spread of the virus. Remote patient monitoring would also enable providers to monitor patients with infectious diseases without coming into direct contact with them. For instance, spirometers can be used to measure airflow and as a result are useful for remotely assessing how well the patient’s lungs works, this could be useful for vulnerable patients experiencing COVID-19 or lung conditions.
4. Enhance Patient Education and Engagement
Health care practitioners can send educational resources that are catered to patient needs, along with information that can help them improve lifestyle behaviours such as different exercises to follow or different foods that they can incorporate into their diet 6. This allows patients to be more educated about their health and in turn feel empowered to make changes or manage their health more carefully.
- Government of Ontario, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Preventing and Managing Chronic Disease [Internet]. [cited 2022Dec22]. Available from: https://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/cdpm/
- Siwicki B. How remote patient monitoring improves care, saves money for chronic care [Internet]. Healthcare IT News. 2022 [cited 2022Dec20]. Available from: https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/how-remote-patient-monitoring-improves-care-saves-money-chronic-care
- Dolan S. Remote Patient Monitoring Trends & Health Devices in 2022 [Internet]. Insider Intelligence. 2022 [cited 2022Dec22]. Available from: https://www.insiderintelligence.com/insights/remote-patient-monitoring-industry-explained/
- Prevounce. A comprehensive guide to Remote Patient Monitoring [Internet]. [cited 2022Dec22]. Available from: https://www.prevounce.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-remote-patient-monitoring
- March of Dimes Canada. National Survey Shows Canadians Overwhelmingly Want to Age at Home; Just One-Quarter of Seniors Expect to Do So [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022Dec22]. Available from: https://www.marchofdimes.ca/en-ca/aboutus/newsroom/pr/Pages/Aging-at-Home.aspx
- Scott J. The benefits of remote patient monitoring are wide ranging [Internet]. HealthTech. 2022 [cited 2022Dec2]. Available from: https://healthtechmagazine.net/article/2021/06/benefits-remote-patient-monitoring-are-wide-ranging-perfcon