Remote Patient Monitoring For Elderly And Homebound Patients
Telehealth and remote patient monitoring is the next best way to in-person healthcare visits for homebound and elderly patients, and even better in some cases. Remote patient monitoring utilizes technological innovations to break away from traditional healthcare norms and digitize healthcare by implementing communication technologies and digital information.
Improved technology in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence has enhanced telemedicine and remote patient monitoring through live video conferencing, medical data and imaging transmission, electronic storage, and even robotic surgery, making healthcare highly accessible to people who cannot access medical health services.
Remote Patient Monitoring for the Elderly
Remote patient monitoring constitutes all technology that allows medical professionals to manage and monitor a patient’s health outside a clinical setting, such as at home. Healthcare professionals can gather information about a patient’s vital signs, such as respiratory rates, blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels, and cardiac status, primarily by using a wearable device. This provides medical professionals with comprehensive and instantly-available healthcare data that assists them in making prompt clinical decisions for the elderly.
Such devices can also alert medical professionals when a homebound patient’s data indicates a problem, such as low or high blood glucose levels. Remote patient monitoring prevents patients from making excessive and preventable in-person visits, simultaneously letting them manage their conditions. Therefore, remote patient monitoring can prove lifesaving for homebound patients or those with limited mobility.
Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring for Homebound or Elderly Patients
Let us look into some primary benefits of remote patient monitoring for elderly or homebound patients:
Increased Convenience Access to Medical Professionals
Elderly or homebound patients typically have more complicated healthcare requirements, but their symptoms prevent them from attending multiple doctor appointments. More than seven million older adults are considered homebound or have mobility limitations that make healthcare access difficult for them. These difficulties also limit their ability to attend doctor appointments, especially if they lack a designated caretaker.
Remote patient monitoring thus offers a convenient solution to seniors unable to communicate with their healthcare providers in person, either due to caretaker or mobility issues, by providing them with timely and easy access to healthcare right from the comfort of their house.
Ability to Successfully Screen for Social Determinants
As per statistics from the American Hospital Association, more than 80% of an individual’s health is associated with factors related to their socioeconomic status, physical environment, and access to healthy food. Since these social determinants of health (SDOH) hold additional importance for elderly and homebound patients, remote patient monitoring can offer a convenient way to perform these screenings. These screenings proved especially important in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic when in-person visits proved even more arduous for elderly and homebound patients, and remote patient monitoring played a heroic role in their ramifications.
Remote Symptom Monitoring
Seniors and homebound patients are more likely to develop chronic illnesses that require prolonged symptom management and monitoring, including autoimmune conditions, diabetes, and COPD. Remote patient monitoring enables healthcare professionals to monitor symptoms conveniently, whether daily blood pressure monitoring through a Bluetooth device or changes in mood, symptoms, and medication side effects.
Decreased Caregiver Burnout
Seniors and homebound patients almost always require a dedicated caregiver, whether a spouse, adult child, nurse, or another family member. However, caregiver duties can quickly pile up and easily lead to burnout by hustling between helping patients with daily living tasks such as cooking and showering, picking up their prescriptions, driving them to appointments, and performing other caregiving responsibilities.
Remote patient monitoring can reduce this burden by offering convenient access to healthcare appointments, eliminating the need to drive patients to and fro in-person meetings, and freeing up time for them to attend to other responsibilities.
Remote Patient Monitoring and Secure Electronic Access to Medical Data
Remote patient monitoring ensures that clinical communication between patients and healthcare providers is secure. Medical professionals’ offices have a patient portal that secures online connections between doctors and patients, allowing seamless and secure communication. Patient portals are typically more secure than emails and allow users to review test results, request prescription refills, and communicate with nurses and doctors.
Some doctors also use personal health records, known as PHR systems. A PHR system is an electronic and secure collection of a patient’s health information, accessible through any web-enabled computer or smartphone application. It can store information about a patient’s allergies, medication, doctors’ contact information, current diagnosis, and other relevant information that may be useful in a medical emergency.
Some healthcare offices, clinics, and even pharmacies offer virtual appointments through remote patient monitoring, allowing a medical professional to connect with a patient through online teleconferencing. This allows patients to receive continuing healthcare when in-person visits are impossible. Other possible ways of virtual communication with healthcare professionals include online call centers staffed with experienced nurses who manage patient questions. Virtual appointments through remote patient monitoring are highly suitable for patients who cannot make maintenance or follow-up visits. It also enables doctors to teleconference with each other to discuss specialized clinical diagnoses so that a patient is not limited to the expertise of doctors primarily in their geographical location.
Since healthcare benefits are evident, most elderly and homebound patients are enthusiastically adapting to these advancements. A survey conducted by the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging in 2020 revealed that more than 91% of patients presented positive feedback for remote patient monitoring and found it easy to use the necessary technology to complete their telehealth visits.
Dr. Josh is a physician who's helping spread the knowledge about Telehealth and its advantages. At SmartClinix, he's providing his expertise and knowledge in the form of engaging articles on various health & tech related topics.