Remote patient monitoring (RPM) occurs when a medical professional connects with patients virtually, either by phone, through video chat, or with other advanced technologies. Registered nurses, doctors, physicians, and other healthcare professionals use RPM to monitor patients and review their current conditions without the need to set up an appointment or interact with them face-to-face.
Like other forms of telehealth, this convenient technology has gained popularity through the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients who are at high-risk for health complications if they contract the virus may be able to sidestep the risk of contraction by skipping in-person doctor’s appointments.
Instead, they connect with their medical professionals virtually and get the treatment, prescriptions, and advice they need without potentially exposing themselves to COVID-19. Learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of RPM, as well as the potential for future advancements.
Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring
Both patients and healthcare professionals benefit from this technology because it saves them time.
Nurses can communicate with more patients in one day when they cut down on their commuting time. Patients also don’t need to find time in their schedules to drive to an office and wait to be seen by a doctor. These patients may be more open to communicating virtually since they’re sitting comfortably in their homes while having conversations with their doctors.
If healthcare professionals are open to working extended hours, they can also make evening or weekend appointments with patients that are more convenient for them. RPM also offers better access to higher quality care.
Better Access To Care
Patients who have to coordinate transportation or pay for public transportation may neglect medical treatment, even if they need it, due to the costs and hassle of getting to and from the office. Those with demanding jobs may also find it hard to take time off from work to make it to the doctor’s office for an appointment.
With RPM, these patients simply need to carve a few minutes out of their day to speak with a medical professional. When patients can call, video chat, or use other at-home technology to receive the healthcare they need, they’re more likely to keep up with their medical treatments and seek help when they need it.
Higher Quality Care
Registered nurses must be skilled at caring for people and educating, treating, and assisting patients in need. Nurses and healthcare professionals that use advanced technologies, such as RPM, find themselves able to provide a higher quality of care to patients.
In addition to communicating with patients virtually, RPM allows these medical professionals to reference patient data quickly through an online database. Doctors and nurses can pull up patient records in a few clicks and review past visits, bloodwork results, and prescription information.
Quick access to this data allows medical professionals to create more harmonious and effective treatment plans and make more accurate decisions about patient health. RPM also ensures these healthcare professionals communicate quickly and effectively with patients about the status of their medical conditions and what to expect.
Drawbacks of Remote Patient Monitoring
While RPM has made it more convenient to treat patients, there are drawbacks to this technology in the healthcare industry. Both patients and healthcare professionals may find it efficient to communicate virtually but they may also feel out of touch with each other if they only interact through virtual technology. Low patient motivation and less face-to-face time are also cons to RPM.
Younger patients who grew up using online technologies may find RPM easy to integrate into their daily lives. However, older patients or those with disabilities may find it hard to follow the steps necessary to access RPM systems and communicate with healthcare professionals.
Since these professionals can’t be face-to-face with patients to walk them through using this technology, they may become frustrated and give up. Without the motivation to learn how to use RPM, patients could decide to skip treatments altogether, putting their health at risk.
Less Face-to-Face Time
Remote connectivity limits the ability of RNs to fulfill the metaparadigm of nursing, which considers the patient environment as well as the clinical plan and individual health. When medical professionals can’t see their patients face-to-face, they may miss certain symptoms patients haven’t disclosed verbally. Without a complete picture of a patient’s health and current experiences, there may be a late diagnosis or an ineffective prescription or treatment plan may be advised.
The Future of Remote Patient Monitoring
Many technology fields are constantly advancing and RPM is no different. In addition to virtual patient appointments, RPM technologies may include advancement in the use of robotics in healthcare. Companion robots may be able to visit patients who are chronically ill, helping them feel less lonely and more hopeful about their health and future.
Robots can record and organize patient data, saving medical professionals time. Some robots are also trained to perform surgeries or analyze a patient’s health records. Eventually, these robots may be trained to take patients’ vital signs or educate patients on their diagnosis.
Cloud computing and big data have also become ubiquitous within the healthcare industry and may play an even bigger role in record maintenance in the future. With cloud computing, healthcare professionals store patient data on a database or network.
This allows them quick and easy access to these records so they can analyze health changes in a matter of minutes. RPM systems may also be able to instantly analyze this data and provide statistics and probabilities that medical professionals can utilize when creating effective treatment plans for individual patients.
RPM Is Here to Stay
Nurses should prepare to answer questions in job interviews related to RPM and other new types of technologies as they become ubiquitous and integral to modern medicine. Likewise, it may be valuable for nurses to highlight their experiences working with telemedicine and RPM in cover letters to emphasize their comfort using these alternative methods of connecting with patients.
RPM allows many patients to connect with their healthcare professionals. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this technology has gained popularity as a way for high-risk individuals to maintain treatment and healthcare assistance without exposure. While this technology is beneficial to the healthcare industry and showing promising technological advancements, it doesn’t come without some drawbacks.
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