Remote Patient Monitoring is helping to drive a fundamental shift in how doctors care for patients. In the past, you went to see the doctor for an annual checkup and then only interacted with your doctor when you didn’t feel well or when you needed a prescription refilled.
Remote Patient Monitoring is on the rise throughout the medical industry
Remote Patient Monitoring uses devices placed in the patients’ homes that they use every day to measure vital signs. Weight, blood pressure, blood oxygenation, and more can call be measured with the results sent to the doctor for review. Through daily monitoring, patient outcomes can be improved, costs can be lowered, and emergency room trips can be reduced. Nearly 88 percent of hospitals and health systems have invested or plan to invest in remote patient monitoring.
But these systems are not limited to just hospitals and large health systems. Eclectic Family Care in Eclectic, AL has deployed the Remote Care Partners solution. As of last week, 60 patients have signed up for the service.
Family physician Dr. Gary McCulloch has taken care of families in the Eclectic area for more than 25 years and said remote patient monitoring is bridging the healthcare gap for his patients.
Remote Patient Monitoring at Eclectic
Remote care coordinator Jessica Griffiths who works with McCulloch said each patient’s individual need determines which items are ordered for the patient.
“Our diabetic patients go home with the glucometer,” she said. “Our asthma patients go home with the spirometer. I have three or four patients who have the spirometer.”
What makes remote patient monitoring attractive to the primary care physician’s office is the ability to immediately see the readings captured by these devices.
“Our spirometer patients have a baseline (reading),” Griffiths said. “If I see later readings go lower, I can tell if they may be getting sick — especially or asthmatics and COPD patients. If that number goes down, you know something is starting. This is a really important tool for patients with lung conditions.”
McCulloch said the new healthcare technology is not intended as a substitute for keeping regularly scheduled visits to the doctor’s office.
“This is in no way something that should be interpreted as instead of the doctor,” he said. “It does allow us to determine who needs to be seen more urgently even on a daily basis. That’s the basic premise.”
Griffiths said she has a dashboard with the names of every patient signed up for the service through McCulloch’s office which she can view from anywhere at anytime. The system also alerts her if a reading is outside a normal parameter so she can follow up on the patient on the phone.
Success with Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote Care Partners company representative Rick Lingo said he has heard of patients who have avoided going to a hospital emergency room with the technology provided by the company he represents.
“There was a patient who was discharged from the hospital,” Lingo said. “She went home and gained a severe amount of weight just one day after coming home. The doctor’s office called the patient and asked what is going on. She did not have her diuretic medication.”
The patient avoided another visit to a hospital emergency room and got the condition under control with medications, Lingo said.
He said setup of the system is simple.
“All the patient has to do when they receive the package at home is plug in the hub,” he said. “It is going to find a cell signal and that’s it. The entire system is coded to that patient.”
McCulloch said the ease of use is key to the success of patients using the device.
“The technology has finally caught up with us,” he said. “It takes pen and paper people, like me, into a dot-com world and we can actually use this system. You don’t have to be computer savvy.”
McCulloch said COVID-19 and the coming flu season is another reason why he recommends the remote monitoring system to those patients who he says needs the service.
“The program keeps our patients connected with our office and safe in their homes,” he said. “We see this as a valuable tool to accomplish that task.”
Eclectic Family Care practice manager Tammy Wilson said most patient’s insurance will cover the costs associated with the device.