Definition

remote patient monitoring (RPM)

Contributor(s): Alex DelVecchio

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a subcategory of homecare telehealth that allows patients to use mobile medical devices and technology to gather patient-generated health data (PGHD) and send it to healthcare professionals. Common physiological data that can be collected with RPM programs include vital signs, weight, blood pressure and heart rate. Once collected, patient data is sent to a physician’s office by using a special telehealth computer system or software application that can be installed on a computer, smartphone or tablet.

RPM is frequently used to help patients that require chronic, post-discharge or senior care. By connecting high-risk patients with remote monitoring, it can notify healthcare organizations of potential health issues or keep track of patient data between visits. Additionally, RPM could be used by businesses that want to record workmen’s compensation cases, making sure employees are on the right path to return to work.

Examples of remote patient monitoring technology

RPM technology can range from handheld medical devices to online platforms that allow patients to input data. A few examples include:

  • Glucose meters for patients with diabetes.
  • Heart rate or blood pressure monitors.
  • Continuous surveillance monitors that can locate patients with conditions like dementia and alert healthcare professionals of an event like a fall.
  • Remote infertility treatment and monitoring.
  • At-home tests that can keep substance abuse patients accountable for and on track with their goals.
  • Caloric intake or diet logging programs.

How remote patient monitoring works

While RPM techniques can vary depending on the device being used or the condition being monitored, most of the technology includes similar components. The first is a wireless-enabled sensor that can measure specific physiological parameters and store the data it collects. This storage must also include a way to connect with additional sensors, healthcare provider databases and related applications. Applications typically provide users with an interface to track or analyze the data and display treatment recommendations.

The data collected by RPM devices is sent to the proper location and stored in a relational database. This allows healthcare organizations with wireless telecommunications data to be looked at as individual instances or in the context of an entire health history. Often, the device can alert patients when a healthcare provider has looked over the data or detects an issue that requires the patient to come in.

Benefits of remote patient monitoring

  • Increased patient engagement- RPM devices allow patients to play a crucial role in managing and understanding their own health conditions.
  • Improved quality of care- RPM gives patients and healthcare providers access to more relevant patient data, thus improving overall quality and value-based care.
  • Better access to healthcare- Since RPM allows patients to complete basic health testing on their own, healthcare professionals are allowed to treat more patients.
  • Higher levels of education and support- RPM gives patients information and feedback about their personal conditions daily, educating them and providing support.
  • Patient assurance- Constant monitoring can give patients a peace of mind that any potential issues will be identified in a timely manner.
This was last updated in April 2019

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What type of remote patient monitoring devices have you encountered and found helpful in providing value-based care?
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