Remote patient monitoring (RPM) has been a part of telemedicine and healthcare for well over a decade. With the advent of smart phones, wireless broadband, and the rapid expansion of bio-peripherals, RPM’s expanded value in healthcare has become much clearer in the last two years. The ability to practice telemedicine in an asynchronous form using RPM leverages survey questions, educational videos, attached bio-peripherals, and captured patient reported outcomes. As RPM is an asynchronous form of telemedicine it fundamentally enables scale and population health surveillance; with the addition of virtualvisits, it brings telehealth to the patient at home.
Before Covid and March 2020, RPM was still in an active developmental phase, especially with scaling a bring-your-own-device offering and the maturation of kit-based program. RPM was starting to integrate into EHRs and analytics systems and was also developing adaptive type questions for more automation. This initial phase of RPM was the early development of the art and science of monitoring-based telemedicine.
In March 2020, the urgent if not emergent need for large scale asynchronous population level telehealth became immediate with Covid. It became necessary to screen large cohorts of patients to check for symptoms, track employee health and also manage chronic conditions that were unable to come for routine appointments. The rapid scale and exponential demand was a perfect fit for RPM with its asynchronous design and call center engagement to react to urgent clinical issues that were detected. Furthermore, changes through executive orders, HHS, and CMS opened up the ability for physicians and other providers to bill for and leverage RPM for both chronic and acute care and revenue. The net result of Covid was an exponential expansion in both the awareness and revenue opportunity for remote monitoring.
Moving forward, there is significant potential for remote monitoring to become one of the leading and if not the largest type of telemedicine. Because it is asynchronous, and because many of its features have been commoditized, RPM a will have large scale impact on chronic disease management, wellness, education, post-acute care, and care transitions. The availability of bio-peripherals such as blood pressure cuffs, pulse oximeters, or other attached sensors such as a glucometer will generate significant amounts of data at the home and be transmitted via RPM. Therefore, the future of monitoring with integration into analytics, leveraging machine learning, and enhanced platforms user-interfaces will help to develop the art and science of this new form of telemedicine and show it true value.