Is there a Difference between Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring?
Remote Patient Monitoring Devices can make your job easier, whether you're an IT expert or a hands-on healthcare provider. After all, 88% of healthcare workers have already purchased or are in the process of purchasing remote patient monitoring devices. So, you might be thinking about the following:
- What is the definition of remote patient monitoring?
- What exactly is telehealth?
- Is there any distinction between these two terms?
What are Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) Devices, and How do they Work?
One of the top-ranked Level 1 Trauma Centers in America has implemented remote patient monitoring devices like ViSi Mobile System from Carlsbad-based Sotera Digital Health to help negate overcrowding and patient deterioration issues. This is one of the first wearable passive vital sign monitoring solutions for ambulatory and non-ambulatory patients to be implemented in this busy environment.
Remote patient monitoring devices help patients and providers communicate with each other by tapping into digital technology. In fact, patients can now monitor their health themselves. They can collect their health data at various points throughout the day and electronically transmit it to their doctor via secure messages. RPM gives healthcare providers the power to know their patients' health conditions daily, which improves overall healthcare services.
What exactly is Telehealth? Are Telehealth and RPM different?
Telehealth is the use of technology to provide healthcare services remotely. This can include virtual consultations, remote monitoring, and sharing health information and education. It is a growing field that has gained increasing attention recently, particularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is a specific application of telehealth that allows healthcare providers to monitor patients remotely, usually outside a traditional clinical setting. It is achieved through the use of medical devices, apps, and other technologies that can gather vital signs and other health data from patients and transmit that information to healthcare providers.
It is a strategy that aims to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs by providing more frequent and efficient monitoring. It is important to note that telehealth and RPM are not interchangeable or synonymous.
Telehealth is a broad category encompassing a wide range of activities, including RPM. Still, it also includes other forms of remote healthcare delivery, such as virtual consultations, video conferencing, and telephonic consult. RPM is a specific subset of telehealth that focuses on the use of technology for the remote monitoring of patients.
During the pandemic, telehealth provided apparent benefits, allowing healthcare to be delivered during lockdowns when the CDC recommended avoiding any non-essential visits outside the home. While vaccinations and other public health measures have allowed us to resume many pre-pandemic activities, such as routine doctor visits, many benefits of telehealth will last beyond the pandemic, such as:
- Convenience: Many people with hectic schedules prefer telehealth visits to save time driving, parking, and waiting in doctors' offices, among other things.
- Accessibility: People living in rural areas are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, injuries, respiratory diseases, and stroke. Rural residents engage in more unhealthy behaviors and have less access to healthcare than those in urban areas. Telehealth can improve access to primary and specialty care for people living in rural areas.
- Breaking down language barriers: If English is not a patient's first language, an interpreter can accompany them on a telehealth visit. Finding an interpreter for a virtual visit may be easier than finding one at a specific office location.
- Disability accessibility: Telehealth technology can be used with real-time captioning, video relay services, and other services to assist people with vision, hearing, or speech impairments.
- Mental health comfort and security: Those struggling with mental health and the stigma associated with mental health issues may feel more comfortable and secure receiving help at home.
What role does Remote Patient Monitoring play?
Unlike virtual visits, Remote patient monitoring play RPM does not typically replace in-person visits. RPM supplements routine appointments and offers a unique perspective because clinicians can gather information about patients' health between visits.
Most chronic condition patients see their doctor every 3 to 6 months or when their health deteriorates. Clinical staff can effectively check patients enrolled in remote patient monitoring every day. This increased visibility into the patient's daily health allows clinical staff to be proactive regarding care plans, medications, and treatment options.
Chronic conditions can be treated in the context of a person's lifestyle with the ability to collect data over time, resulting in more impactful, timely education opportunities and interventions. Remote patient monitoring can help to keep your health in check between office visits.
During a routine visit, a clinician, for example, will most likely discuss healthy diet options with a diabetic or hypertensive patient (in-person or virtual). After a few weeks, a patient who knows that an apple is a better snack than potato chips may opt for the chips because they prefer them. However, if they are enrolled in an RPM program and know that a care team member will be reviewing their blood pressure or blood sugar readings and calling them to inquire about what they ate, they may opt for the apple instead. Because there is daily interaction, RPM can provide an ongoing sense of responsibility and accountability.
White coat hypertension is another excellent example of how RPM can provide data and insight that a routine office cannot. This occurs when a patient's blood pressure readings at the doctor's office are consistently higher than at home or other settings. While white-coat hypertension may be caused by the stress of a doctor's appointment, it can also signify a longer-term hypertension problem. Remote patient monitoring can help determine which treatment options are best if any.
RPM can and should improve patient communication and engagement. You stay in the in-person connection because you continue to see the patient regularly and add additional engagement opportunities between visits with text, phone calls, and possibly even video chat.
Telehealth and Remote patient monitoring are frequently used interchangeably. They are, however, not the same. If you want to learn more about telehealth and Remote patient monitoring devices, don't hesitate to contact Sotera Digital Health today. We provide exceptional service to healthcare professionals and patients by utilizing cutting-edge remote patient monitoring devices.