Cofounder and CEO of FitPeo Inc., an initiative to provide better preventive care to those who need it the most.
The lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the use of communication technology to offer work, education and life resources remotely. The healthcare industry was no different, where services like telehealth provided access to patients during precarious times, increasing in use by 15x the pre-pandemic levels in some states. Remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM) is just one facet of the expanding opportunities in this technology-driven space and continues to benefit patients and providers.
What Is Remote Therapeutic Monitoring?
It is the practice of using technology to connect healthcare providers with patients to track health conditions between medical visits. RTM allows healthcare providers to monitor a patient’s adherence to a care plan (including medication or lifestyle habits), as well as their musculoskeletal system and respiratory system functioning.
With a formalized platform to offer this tracking, professionals can also bill for this oversight, further incentivizing them to pursue this level of connectivity with their patients. RTM focuses on non-physiological data, like tracking pain levels and, for example, exercise programs.
What Is The Difference Between RTM And RPM?
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is like RTM because it also uses technological tools to track patient care outside the doctor’s office virtually. However, RPM is typically associated with monitoring physiological data, such as blood sugar, blood pressure, oxygen levels and heartbeat.
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RTM has elevated medical care outcomes for patients and providers alike. With more accurate information about each patient and a streamlined system for collecting that information, both providers and patients see endless benefits when they leverage the opportunities that come with RTM. Here are the top benefits.
Types Of RTM
There are several different types of RTM, including:
- Continuous monitoring: This type of RTM involves the continuous collection of data from devices such as wearable sensors, glucose monitors and blood pressure cuffs. This type of monitoring is useful for patients with chronic conditions, as it allows healthcare providers to monitor patients in real time.
- Intermittent monitoring: Intermittent RTM involves the periodic collection of data from patients, usually through the use of self-reported symptoms, questionnaires or remote consultations. This type of monitoring is useful for patients who have less frequent or less severe symptoms.
- Proactive monitoring: Proactive RTM involves the use of predictive algorithms and machine learning to identify potential health problems and alert healthcare providers in advance. This type of monitoring is useful for patients who are at high risk of developing health problems.
- Higher engagement levels: With a system in place to record and track their progress, habits and pain levels, patients are more likely to adhere strictly to care plans and medical advice. RTM serves as a form of accountability, holding patients responsible for following the direction of their provider and proving that they have done so. As a result, patients see better outcomes and increased improvements in their conditions as they are more likely to follow the guidance.
- Reduced medical costs: By engaging remotely, patients can save on the costs associated with medical visits—including the appointment and the required time off work, childcare, etc. For this reason, RTM is highly effective from a financial point of view, which also serves as a reinforcing motive for patients as they follow the care plan.
- Increased access to a variety of care: The ability for patients to engage with their medical providers remotely breaks down barriers that have historically prevented individuals from getting care. Without the need to travel or commute, patients in more rural areas or those with other hurdles to overcome (including childcare, lack of personal or sick days, etc.) can receive attentive care. RTM can help bridge systemic gaps in the healthcare industry—whereby patients of color have traditionally received worse care than their white counterparts—by providing broader access to quality care.
- Drives accurate care plan and decision making: Medical professionals gain new, high-quality information about their patients’ lifestyles and can use these data points to develop more accurate and successful care plans. By tracking changes in symptoms and self-reported pain over time, physicians gain access to a holistic view that drives better decision making.
- Manages staff shortages: The medical industry has been hit hard in the last few years, with a demand for more than 1 million nurses. The opportunities that come with RTM can help mitigate the staffing shortages seen across the country. By tracking data using software and apps, medical professionals can reduce the number of appointments and make the most of their staff without needing to find extra nurses and administrators if there is a shortage.
- Bolsters client-patient relationship: With ongoing feedback to and from the patient, medical professionals will develop stronger relationships with their clients and gain more trust from those patients in the process. These strengthened relationships can result in a more substantial commitment to the care plan on the patient’s part and a better understanding of the patient’s day-to-day life on the physician’s part.
Remote patient monitoring has become a game-changer in the healthcare industry, especially in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. With the outbreak of the virus, hospitals and clinics were overcrowded, leading to increased stress on the healthcare system. However, remote patient monitoring provided a solution by enabling healthcare providers to monitor patients remotely without having to visit a hospital or clinic physically.
Using RTM with patients has helped improve the patient experience and provided better opportunities for long-term success to medical providers. Alongside the growing trend across industries, RTM is evidence that the medical industry is making the most of communication technology to improve patient outcomes and access to healthcare.