Remote patient monitoring promises significant healthcare opportunities

7 September 2021

University of Queensland researchers have identified six ingredients of success that may lower healthcare costs and improve medical care using Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM).

Research Fellow at the UQ Centre for Health Services Research, Doctor Emma Thomas said RPM, a telehealth innovation, reduces acute care by enabling early intervention and preventing disease exacerbation.

“It achieves this by using technology to monitor patient biological functions and behaviours, such as heart rate, blood pressure, medication adherence and physical activity, from a distance”, Dr Thomas said.

“Our research shows six factors are needed for RPM to produce successful healthcare outcomes”, she said. 

“These are; 1) targeting high risk populations, 2) accurately detecting health decline, 3) providing responsive and timely care, 4) personalising care, 5) enhancing self-management and, 6) ensuring collaborative and coordinated care”.

Researchers made the findings after analysing 91 RPM studies, conducted between 2015-2020, and identifying potential mechanisms that led to variations in acute care use, such as hospitalisation and length of stay.   

Dr Thomas said remote patient monitoring is a very underutilised telehealth intervention.

 “With support, many individuals could effectively self-manage chronic conditions at home, she said.

“Healthcare providers, if alerted early, could intervene when a person’s health begins declining, potentially preventing costly hospital escalations.

One of the main drivers of high healthcare costs for chronically ill patients is acute hospital admissions, due to the intense resources required.

Dr Thomas said new models of care are being widely investigated and trialled to extend care into the home and prevent unnecessary acute care in hospitals.

“RPM offers significant opportunities to increase the timeliness of care, enhance health outcomes, and potentially reduce hospitalisations and associated healthcare costs”, Dr Thomas said.

“Clinicians, researchers, and healthcare policymakers need evidence-based guidance on how best to design and implement RPM interventions.

“Our study provides them with these much-needed recommendations”. 

This paper is published in BMJ Open: doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2021-051844