Like other virtual health technologies, remote patient monitoring grew in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One study published in JAMA Internal Medicine earlier this month found a steep incline in its use among traditional Medicare beneficiaries, increasing from 91 claims per 100,000 enrollees in February 2020 to 594 claims per 100,000 enrollees in September 2021.
Waqaas Al-Siddiq, CEO of remote patient monitoring firm Biotricity, said consumers are much more aware of the technology since the pandemic and now want to understand how that data is being used to guide their care.
“A couple of years ago, they were looking at devices for personal use and collecting data. Now they’re looking at devices and technologies that are accurate and integrate within their care programs,” he said during a panel discussion at the Connected Health Summit. “How does that information translate? How does that information get to their doctor? How does that doctor use that? A couple of years ago, that last piece was never really at the forefront of the consumers’ minds.”
There are plenty of examples of the “digital front door,” where patients initiate their own care or connect with the health system online, including something as simple as researching symptoms on Google, said Amar Kendale, president of rural-focused hybrid care provider Homeward.
But some patient populations aren’t as tech savvy or may have other priorities. For instance, he said some older adults value relationships with a provider they already trust.
“I think that this idea of a digital front door has gotten a little bit overloaded,” he said. “And the premise that a person can self-navigate themselves to the right place to get care, it does place a lot of burden on the consumer.”
Brock Winzeler, president of Freeus, Becklar workforce safety and Becklar connected wellness at health and security tech firm Becklar, said they had a difficult time getting devices into seniors’ homes and encouraging their use during the height of the pandemic.
So the company decided to focus on engagement and communicating with subscribers as part of their remote patient monitoring program.
“One of the things that we noticed is beyond just using the peripherals — providing weight, blood pressure, pulse oximetry, all those things — how are they feeling? How did they sleep last night? Did they eat today? These types of questions would help us to assess their overall wellbeing,” he said.
Meanwhile, there also has to be a balance between using devices people already own, like a smartphone, and developing a new specialty device, said Dan McCaffrey, vice president of digital health and software at Omron Healthcare.
Not everyone has the most up-to-date smartphone, and the people with the greatest health needs may not be early adopters of new technology, McCaffrey noted.
“I always like to start with the clinical outcome and then back into the technology, as opposed to starting with the technology and trying to move into the clinic,” he said.