Over the years, one industry that hasn’t been fully digitalized is the healthcare sector. This is largely because of its nature and peculiarities. But since the pandemic outbreak, it has become a matter of urgency to be more intentional in digitalizing the processes involved. The healthcare crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic has exposed how vulnerable the healthcare sector is, and the much needed technological inputs.
We live in the era where a greater population is digitally connected in some way. Even the elderly and senior citizens are not left out from this digital revolution. Therefore, it’s only logical sense that the healthcare industry is seeing a lot of connected health devices and remote patient monitoring (RPM) technologies.
In this article you’ll know about how connected health devices and remote patient monitoring (RPM) technology is reshaping the healthcare industry. Let’s plunge into what are connected health devices.
What is a connected health device?
Generally, connected devices are intelligent objects of all kinds that communicate with your smartphone or tablet. They collect information on the different activities that you perform during the day. This information is often stored in the Cloud and can then be viewed, tracked and shared by the user. The market for connected objects seem limitless, it seems everything that can be connected will be connected from watches, cars, tennis rackets, toothbrushes, etc.
What is a connected medical device? A connected medical device is any instrument, apparatus, appliance, or software intended by its manufacturer to be used in humans for purposes including diagnosis, prevention, monitoring, treatment, mitigation of illness or injury. Directive 93/42/EEC concerning medical devices. From a simple adhesive bandage to the most sophisticated machines that maintain vital functions, medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices are essential to our health and quality of life. Medical devices, certified and CE marked, are subjected to strict European regulations.
Before placing a medical device on the market of the European Community, the manufacturer must submit the product to a conformity evaluation procedure with the essential requirements provided for in the applicable directive. The following are some of the available connected health devices and their uses.
1. Project Zero by OMRON
Project Zero by OMRON is a blood pressure monitor.
- Blood pressure checker
- Sends information about your blood pressure directly to your phone
- Fast and accurate
- Can work in conjunction with apple Heath app
- It has been approved by FDA
2. Fever smart
Fever smart is a patch thermometer that enables parents monitor their children temperature throughout the night.
- Alerts the parents if the child’s temperature rises in the night
- Monitors the child’s temperature throughout the night
- Saves data on the cloud.
- Approved by FDA
3. Polar Balance by Polar
Polar balance is a smart scale that connects with your smartphone to help you achieve your weight loss goals.
- Prescribes personal workout ideas and motivation.
- Helps you maintain your weight loss goals.
- User friendly, as progress and trends can be viewed.
- Each scale can house data for up to 10 individuals.
4. Smart hearing aids by Sivantos for Siemens
These hearing aids have the standard capability of any normal hearing aid; they focus on speech directed toward the user, minimizing background noise.
- Allows you to control and adjust what you’re hearing from the palm of your hand
- Enables you to adjust the treble or balance between the two aids
- It learns your preferred patterns to personalize the intensity of the different sounds running through your ears.
- Connects with your smart phone
5. Quell by Neurometrix
This wearable simply wraps around your leg, just below the knee, adjusting its intensity of pain relief based upon your activity level.
- Blocks pain signals transmitted throughout your body
- Provides all day long relief
- Cleared by the FDA
- This device can be safely worn while you sleep
Now let’s move to Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) which is another digital solution to the health care crisis.
What is Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)?
Remote patient monitoring is a technology to enable monitoring of patients outside of conventional clinical settings, such as in the home or in a remote area, which may increase access to care and decrease healthcare delivery cost.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) uses digital technologies to collect medical and other forms of health data from individuals in one location and electronically transmit that information securely to health care providers in a different location for assessment and recommendations. This type of service allows a provider to continue to track healthcare data for a patient once released to home or a care facility, reducing readmission rates.
Monitoring programs can collect a wide range of health data from the point of care, such as vital signs, weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and electrocardiograms.
Examples of Remote patient monitoring devices
Modern remote patient monitoring devices capture a lot of health data, from heart rate to blood pressure, without surveillance by a health care provider. They can be either sensors implanted under the skin or user-friendly wearables like an Apple Watch or a Fitbit. But, as we mentioned above, only wireless, noninvasive tools measuring common physiological parameters enjoy FDA authorization for their use by hospitals remotely at least until the COVID-19 outbreak ends.
The new FDA policy applies the following types of RPM devices:
- electronic thermometers,
- electrocardiographs (ECGs),
- electroencephalographs (EEGs)
- cardiac monitors,
- apnea monitors,
- blood pressure monitors,
- breathing frequency monitors, and
- electronic stethoscopes.
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.