The Future of Healthcare: AI-Powered Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
Updated: May 21
Hey everyone, sorry for the short hiatus. I had a bit of studying up to do for AP exams and finals but I am back, and here to stay!
What is Remote Patient Monitoring?
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM), also called Remote Physiological Monitoring, is the use of the latest technology, such as iWatches and other fitness trackers, to record data from patients and electronically analyze and send the details to health care providers for their diagnosis. RPM is cost-effective, reduces the chance of hospitalization, increases provider efficiency, and can be used to monitor a wide range of conditions.
What is RPM being used for right now?
Although RPM originated and trended within clinical medicine, it’s role has expanded to orthopedics and monitor chronic health conditions. It can be used for monitoring weight, pulse, oxygen saturation, blood pressure/glucose, temperature, and even mental health. In the case of patients with chronic conditions, they can stay in the comfort of their own home, while also receiving immediate care by sharing this info to your doctors. This helps monitor discharged patients that are still at risk because health providers can receive alerts when their vitals are a bit off count. Also, it can save hospital beds and clinicians’ time by only using their resources when it is 100% necessary. RPM is even more efficient and economical when it is mobile enabled. Mobile enabled RPM can prompt patients for important details that provide instant clinical and financial value. With a user friendly mobile app, there are stronger communication lines between providers and patients that lead to a more accurate diagnosis.
How are electronic health records (EHR) adding to the efficient use of RPM?
Electronic health records started replacing paper based systems years before the pandemic. They allowed for contact less reports, as well as access by multiple medical staff at a certain time, rather than only allowing for securely having one copy. It also allowed for patients to have access to their reports through online portals. Telehealth solutions such as Zoom+ allowed portability as you could talk to your doctor from the comfort and convenience of your home, as well as if you are out of town. This also brings specialists in the field directly to patients, no matter the distance. This medical equity should be our future, as it provides care regardless of borders. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of these practices by smaller hospitals, and increased the conversation around what healthcare should look like moving forward.
How can AI-powered RPM improve healthcare?
AI powered RPM can improve healthcare by reducing hospitalization by monitoring activity patterns, as well as being able to detect unusual behavior or major falls. Chatbots on hospital websites can also be used to have conversations with multiple patients at one time, and use keywords to detect what the issue is and who is most at risk. This allows doctors to use their time and services in the right direction, and saves valuable resources. AI can also be trained to remind older people with memory loss to take their medications, eat meals, or drink water, which takes away the need to be under constant hospitalization.
What are some downsides to AI-powered RPM?
The biggest downside to AI powered RPM is the most obvious which is data privacy. It is a known fact that google searches and other information you enter onto your computer leads to what ads you may get, as well as what information is shared to other third party websites. So it’s not surprising to know that the concern of privacy comes up again. However, if it does anything to reassure you about the sales of your personal information, there are strict policies against this, one example being the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) which confirms that it is illegal to share medical or insurance data to others who it does not concern. Another related downside includes the lack of willingness among senior populations to let go of their information onto online portals because of these concerns around data privacy. Also, people with chronic conditions may prefer to meet in person with their doctors. Another downside for chronically ill patients is that due to the artificially inflated healthcare prices because of the increase in online health opportunities, medicine prices have skyrocketed. These are all things that both patients and medical staff have to keep in perspective.
What might RPM be used for in the future?
If a pandemic were to ever occur again in the future (knock on wood), RPM would help prevent more infection. Other than that, it also minimizes errors and maximizes communication as it encourages constant connection. In the cases of patients with chronic illnesses, RPM can allow medical staff to remind patients with memory issues to take their medicine, which is a key portion of healthcare. RPM is and will continue to be elevated by the growing popularity (and availability) of healthcare tech, as well as patient’s willingness to record and share very personal information. According to Forbes, by 2025, the global RPM market is en route to reaching a value of $117.1 billion. It’s safe to say AI and machine learning will soon be able to automate most repetitive tasks so our frontline workers can use their valuable time where it’s needed most.
For more information, or even some insight into the future, take a look at some of the sources I used, as well as further reading.
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