Brian Jackson - Fotolia
Organizations typically look at smartphones and tablets as a means to enable mobile workers, but smartphone technology can also enable remote patients to transmit crucial medical data to their physicians.
Remote patient monitoring is changing how physicians and patients collaborate and opens the door for improved outcomes and cost savings.
How can remote patient monitoring help?
When patients transmit their own or their child's vitals to a physician via a mobile device, the physician gains access to up-to-date health data such as heart rate, blood sugar levels and numerous other data points. This access allows physicians to identify early indicators of life-threatening conditions that may have otherwise gone unnoticed until the next in-person appointment.
Smartphones and tablets that connect to medical devices via wire or Bluetooth help facilitate the transfer of patient data from health sensors to on-site apps and services that allow healthcare professionals to analyze the data.
This access to the vitals of patients outside of a hospital's direct care allows physicians the chance to identify signs of serious complications. This data collection also helps patients who require hospital readmission get access to healthcare more quickly because the physician already has an idea of what the patient's issue could be.
Today, several hospitals embrace mobile apps and remote patient monitoring technology to help their patients manage and control some of their chronic illnesses without requiring frequent hospital visits or stays.
What types of remote patient monitoring are there?
Remote patient monitoring via smartphones and tablets generally works in one of two scenarios.
The first use case of remote patient monitoring includes sensors that directly connect to a mobile app. The sensors gather the data and transmit the results to a clinician in real time for review. Medical devices such as TytoCare, for example, enable patients to perform a self-examination and transmit the data to their smartphone to the medical device's app.
The second scenario is for patients that need their vitals monitored for an extended period. This process may take a few hours, several days or even indefinitely. The patient must put on a wearable device that connects to their smartphones for data collection. In this use case, the medical devices track more health data, which provides physicians with an opportunity to analyze the collected data and identify trends or abnormal datapoints. Some of platforms that support this use case include CarePredict, which supports the use of a wearable that can capture movement, heart rate, location and two-way communication between the user and the physician.
The use of mobile devices and apps in healthcare, however, causes some concerns and challenges. Data security during transmission, for example, can be a big challenge for IT. Many of the apps that interact with the clinical data are hosted by the app developers, which raises concerns around the developers' ability to protect the data and meet regulatory compliance.