Although remote patient monitoring systems have been in sporadic use for a number of years, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a rapid acceleration and widespread acceptance of these technologies that will have an enduring positive impact on the future of medical care, both for patients and physicians.
Integrating these technologies into a medical practice has a number of benefits, including protecting physicians, nurses and staff from potential exposure by greatly reducing the number of patient-provider interactions. Health care providers who have been exposed but are asymptomatic and under quarantine could continue to provide patient care from home, easing the burden of lost professional resources on hospitals, clinics and private practices.
Patients are protected as well, especially those already at high risk, such as the elderly or those with underlying comorbid conditions. Patients who are exhibiting low acuity symptoms can be effectively triaged via a video visit, easing pressure on already overcrowded emergency rooms and urgent care clinics and also helping to relieve healthcare personnel shortages.
Those patients who are already ill but do not require hospitalization can be safely kept under observation at home through the use of remote patient monitoring equipment. Patients who have chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and asthma can be routinely monitored at home as well, greatly decreasing the need for as many in person office visits as would normally be required.
Federal, as well as state laws and regulations are rapidly evolving to provide increased reimbursement for telemedicine models, including those using non-physician providers such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners. As the demand for these systems increases, physicians need a trusted, turn-key, secure solution that is easy for their staff to implement and has a high acceptance rate by their patients. Other features physicians should insist upon are systems that are HIPAA compliant, seamlessly integrate with existing electronic health records and have the capacity to handle high patient volumes.
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Stacie Vilendrer, MD MBA, Birju Patel, MD MPH, Whitney Chadwick, MD, Michael Hwa, MD FACP, Steven Asch, MD MPH, Natalie Pageler, MD, Rajiv Ramdeo, MPH, Erika A Saliba-Gustafsson, PhD, Philip Strong, MD, Christopher Sharp, MD, Rapid Deployment of Inpatient Telemedicine In Response to COVID-19 Across Three Health Systems, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Volume 27, Issue 7, July 2020, Pages 1102–1109, doi.org/10.1093/jamia/ocaa077