Remote patient monitoring (RPM) can be leveraged to gather extensive patient data over a specified amount of time or continuously for long-term care. But what kind of information can RPM devices collect? And how can providers glean useful insights from that data?
Here, we’ll explore these questions and uncover how RPM data paired with the right interoperable technology can empower care providers to enhance the patient experience, improve patient care, and achieve better patient health outcomes at scale.
What types of data can RPM devices collect?
RPM devices can collect various data relating to patients’ vital signs, conditions, adherence to treatment plans, and more. Here’s a look at some of the information RPM devices can collect:
- Blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (with remote blood pressure monitors)
- Pulse oximetry — the oxygen saturation of a patient’s blood — and pulse rate (with remote pulse oximeters)
- Blood glucose — blood sugar — levels (with remote glucose monitors)
- Body weight (with remote weight scales)
- Forced expiratory volume, forced vital capacity, and other data related to a patient’s pulmonary function (with remote spirometers)
These are just some examples of the physiological data and vital metrics that RPM devices can track. In the clinic, providers can collect this same data, but doing so only shows a snapshot of a patient’s health in that moment. This glimpse may not paint a clear picture of how patients fare outside of the hospital — for example, some patients may show higher or lower BP when measured in the doctor’s office due to stress or anxiety.
With RPM devices, providers can collect this data continuously, over a longer period, and remotely, which usually equates to a more comfortable setting for the patient. This can provide a larger and wider data set that may give care teams a better idea of a patient’s health, including their symptoms and how their lifestyle may be affecting their well-being over time.
Using the same example, collecting BP readings over an extended period may reveal the patient has a consistently higher or lower BP, which can help clinicians diagnose a condition like hypertension — something that could have been missed with just one or two BP readings in the clinic.
But how can providers tap into this remote information to inform care plan decision-making? That’s where an interoperable RPM platform can help.
In addition to aggregating physiological data, an RPM platform can help care teams:
- Track how well a patient adheres to their treatment plan and medication regimen
- Monitor a patient’s symptoms
- Oversee how well a patient’s wound is healing
- Observe a patient’s lifestyle, including their physical activity levels
- Communicate regularly with a patient to better understand their condition, how well their care journey is progressing, and if adjustments need to be made to improve quality of life or health
How can remote patient monitoring data be used?
An RPM platform that can integrate with electronic health record (EHR) software helps clinicians leverage RPM data to compare patient vitals against reference parameters and chart histories, identify trends in symptom changes, and produce comprehensive reports.
This can help providers identify which patients need immediate medical attention, possibly reducing the need for hospitalizations, readmissions, in-person visits, and more costly treatments. The best RPM platforms can also empower care teams to improve everything from preventive care services to population health management to transitional care.
What does this look like in practice? Let’s focus on the hypertension example again.
It’s well-established that hypertension is a serious chronic disease greatly influenced by blood pressure variability (BPV) — a crucial assessment indicator that can be affected by factors like exercise, irregular sleeping patterns, and stress.
Complicating this further is what’s called white coat hypertension — an elevated BP by the bedside but normal BP readings at home — and masked hypertension — a normal BP reading at the clinic but an increased out-of-office BP reading.
Such variables can make it difficult to diagnose hypertension from just one or two BP readings at the clinic. With a remote BP monitoring system, more data can be collected in multiple settings. Patients can use a remote BP device at home; then, the data can be transferred wirelessly to a data storage center. When connected to that data storage and integrated with an EHR system, an effective RPM platform can organize BP data and results so that they’re easily digestible, sortable, and actionable across applications.
With more accessible data in hand, clinicians can view full histories of their patients’ vitals, compare them to reference points, and uncover telling trends. This can inform diagnoses, like masked hypertension, and treatment decisions based on patients’ medical histories, BP measurements, and clinical guidelines.
Some RPM platforms can also be used to instruct patients to perform additional BP monitoring based on summarized data and reports or enter the treatment plan adjustment phase through virtual communication, like video conferencing. Certain tasks, including patient enrollment registration, drug titration, and maintenance treatment, can also be automatically assigned via the system, which can help remind patients to take BP measurements.
Supercharging decision-making and enhancing patient care
All these capabilities combined in one platform can not only help clinicians supercharge decision-making, but also help them identify symptom changes and intervene early to avoid escalations.
For example, remote BP monitoring can be used to more accurately detect factors causing rapid BP changes during daily life, enabling clinicians to address concerning symptoms to reduce cardiovascular risk and help patients avoid adverse events.
Better BP tracking can ultimately improve early prognosis and enhance patient quality of life.
It can also improve the ability of patients to self-manage care — potentially reducing treatment and care costs — and is especially suitable for patient groups where outpatient follow-up is difficult or where there are barriers to treatment adherence.
And that’s just one example — these benefits extend beyond hypertension to everything from acute care and other types of chronic care management to preventive care services. For example:
- UPMC found that remote patient monitoring helped reduce ER utilization and hospital readmissions.
- Research conducted by The University of Queensland and published by BMJ Open found that RPM can help target at-risk populations, accurately detect a decline in health, provide and personalize timely care, enhance self-management, and ensure coordinated care.
- Prior research by the team also found that RPM can reduce acute care use for patients with cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, reportedly reducing length of stay, emergency presentation, and hospital readmissions.
In short, the wealth of data that RPM devices can collect needs to be organized, secured, and built on a solid foundation to be utilized effectively and safely at scale. In a cohesive RPM ecosystem, remote patient monitoring data feeds into an integrated RPM platform and software that can help care providers access the data they need to make decisions quickly and accurately, track larger trends in patient health, and elevate both chronic care and preventive care services.
Discover how the right RPM data platform can drive streamlined decision-making in your organization by scheduling a CareSimple demo.