September 16, 2021 - Parul Saini, Webmedy Team
Covid-19 has affected almost every industry and our lives too. While negatives impacts are apparent, it's also visible that this pandemic has led to change, creative solutions, and even innovation in various areas. The education system is adopting new models, new strategies, and new solutions to collaborate productively from home.
In the healthcare sector, we have seen a significant influence on telehealth and managing patients remotely in more effective ways over the past few weeks. Covid-19 has reshaped how hospitals and practices treat and interact with patients using digital solutions and telehealth. Covid-19 has drastically changed the telehealth and remote patient monitoring landscape, pushing providers to adopt or expand connected health platforms and tools to meet the demand for virtual care to replace in-person services.
The pandemic pushed providers to adopt virtual care at a rapid pace. Aided by emergency federal and state measures that expanded access to and coverage of telehealth, health systems, hospitals, medical practices, and clinics took whatever they could find and used it.
Remote monitoring capabilities gained new traction during the pandemic, but they've proven to benefit patients beyond quarantine. Remote monitoring technology provides a platform for patients to engage with their providers when they need them and become more involved in their care. Remote monitoring devices in health care relay data back to the electronic health record (EHR) and care team. They provide a point of communication through digital patient engagement tools - like mobile apps and SMS text messaging - bridging access between patients and their providers beyond the office setting. Remote devices help build stronger provider-patient communication and relationships and offer new tools for chronic disease management.
As remote monitoring devices are integrated into EHR workflows, expect changes to reimbursement models. The integration of remote monitoring technology with a standard of care practices will help providers deliver better care as reimbursement changes shift the burden of chronic care management to the physician.
Wearable technology is adopted in society, with fitness trackers and smartwatches seen as mainstream. The use of wearable technology has more than tripled in the last four years, and more than 80% of consumers say they're willing to use it. Well, there are some concerns about using wearable technology such as privacy and regulatory concerns - there is much more potential for this technology in the health care space.
The wearable devices can monitor blood pressure and heart rate, and some even have predictive capabilities. They provide a valuable reference point for physicians to engage patients about specific physiological and biochemical parameters and what they mean. Wearable technology allows patients to engage and take responsibility for their health. There should be more self-management options with interactive patient education technology to ensure that patients understand the data. Remote monitoring devices should ultimately help patients simplify rather than complicate their health management.
Telemedicine had initially arisen to provide medical assistance either in rural areas or where access to care is hard, mainly aimed at improving chronic disease management, mostly in urgencies.
Over the years, the onset of either epidemics or pandemics has led to the employment of increasingly novel digital technology strategies, which have also triggered the use of telemedicine during the diverse stages of the infection much more frequently, such as in the cases of the SARS epidemic in 2003 and, later, MERS-CoV in 2013.
Due to its novelty, as well as the large spectrum of potential applications, clear differentiation of settings in which to use telemedicine during emergency periods has also been challenging. For example, e-health can be applied to all asymptomatic subjects in an epidemic area. This "home-based" management is most useful in the suspect of infection-related symptoms and allows to address subjects to dedicated referral centers. Moreover, positive asymptomatic subjects can be followed up by periodic phone and web consulting. Beyond these, over the last years, digital geolocalization tools further contributed to an improvement of these services. In addition, telemedicine is also useful to take care of individuals either in the domiciliary or nosocomial isolation.
These are uncertain and exceptional times with lasting effects for all of us. And while it's still unclear which of the COVID-19 adjustments are here to stay and become ingrained in our lives, we are still hopeful that a few years out, as we look back on the crisis-driven changes that led to our new normal, we're going to remember that the COVID-19 pandemic played a critical role in the acceleration and widespread adoption of digital health solutions.