RPM In The Management Of Neurological Disorders
Remote patient monitoring is an innovative advancement in the healthcare industry that has eliminated the need for physical mobility for in-person healthcare encounters, using technology for the same purpose. RPM applies the following four primary application domains for this purpose:
- Live video conferencing
- Store and forward application – storing and transmitting health information, including MRIs, CAT scans, and x-rays, between healthcare professionals
- Mobile health
- Remote patient monitoring
RPM collects medical data and personal health from one location and transmits it to another. Its effective application allows healthcare providers to keep a keen eye on a patient’s health data, including blood sugar, vital signs, weight, blood oxygen levels, and electrocardiogram output. Remote patient monitoring also plays a pivotal role in neurology: neurologists employ RPM tools to deal with chronic conditions in post-discharge or senior care patients who need ancillary treatment and services.
RPM allows chronic disease management in neurology. More than 21 million individuals in the United States experience some neuropathy presently, with a demand for neurologists anticipated to overpower supply. According to the American Academy of Neurology, a 19% decrease in neurologists is expected by 2025, with the demand exceeding the supply threshold by 20% or more in multiple states. In such conditions, RPM can offer high-value care for patients suffering from neurological conditions, primarily because neurologists are typically concentrated near facilities designed for comprehensive care provision or in urban areas, which builds up access barriers for patients in rural areas.
Remote Patient Monitoring and Its Uses for Patients with Neurological Diseases
Neurological disorders affect the peripheral and central nervous systems, hampering overall mobility and cognitive function. This holds particular value for certain neurological conditions, such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis, that impact the spinal cord, brain, muscles, and nerves. All these mentioned conditions require specialized care teams for diagnosis, ongoing evaluation, and treatment, and thus RPM can help healthcare professionals manage these chronic neurological conditions through the following steps:
- Regular specialist follow-ups – allows timely identification of worsening clinical symptoms and subsequent necessary clinical interventions before preventable and unscheduled medical services are needed.
- Enhanced care coordination – allows the exchange of data and prompts communication between healthcare providers and patients to facilitate treatments particular to a condition, including managing several comorbidities.
- Increased clinical productivity – automates the documentation and reduces the travel time for a home visit.
- Increased trust – elevates patient satisfaction and promotes a feeling of connectedness with healthcare providers since they are connected with patients.
- Reduced caregiver and patient burden – promotes independent living by promptly transmitting critical information to caregivers for adequate clinical intervention and providing automated care management reminders.
Multiple Sclerosis and Remote Patient Monitoring
Multiple sclerosis is a common auto-immune disorder that affects more than one million adults in the United States and targets the nervous system. Remote patient monitoring can facilitate longitudinal symptom monitoring and clinical trial participation for patients suffering from this disorder through the following:
Patient data reporting
Patients may have to report clinical data related to trial endpoints themselves during clinical trials, typically undertaken using a wearable sensor that records their posture classification, heart rate, movement, vital signs, and sleep-related metrics for multiple sclerosis patients in clinical trials. This also reduces the burden on patients and enhances the accuracy and quality of information.
A pivotal benchmark for multiple sclerosis patients is walking scores that help medical professionals monitor mobility impairments. They are typically conducted at a medical professional’s office, but innovations in wearable technology allow patients to precisely and accurately track their condition across multiple walking impairment levels.
Parkinson’s Disease and Remote Patient Monitoring
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that impacts 1 million people in the United States and affects dopamine-producing neurons in the brain, resulting in mobility issues. Although patients of Parkinson’s disease require in-person rehabilitation, several neurologists also use RPM as a means to make lifestyle changes and provide longitudinal care, such as:
Tele-consultation with healthcare specialists
Mobility issues caused by Parkinson’s disease can hamper a patient’s ability to see their doctor, and thus RPM can be effectively used to provide virtual specialty care through web-based teleconferencing systems that connect patients with healthcare providers and also allow the latter to formulate a suitable coordinated care plan for each patient. Parkinson’s disease patients with mobile phones can also use an application to track and transmit clinical information about their symptoms to their physicians.
Remote Blood Pressure Monitoring
Orthostatic hypotension – which is a fluctuation in blood pressure caused by changing positions, such as standing or sitting – is particularly common in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Remote blood pressure monitoring, in this case, can help PD patients regulate their condition and treat it by prompting a faster clinical response to safety concerns of orthostatic hypotension.
Epilepsy and Remote Patient Monitoring
Epilepsy is a chronic disorder that affects more than three million adults in the United States and causes unprovoked seizures in patients. Although in-person office lab work is crucial for patients with epilepsy, remote patient monitoring can help a patient manage their symptom progression, adjust medications, and review diagnostic results, including the following:
Epilepsy management requires intensive care at level 3 and 4 specialized epilepsy centers, most of which are located in urban areas. Remote patient monitoring can help rural patients by tracking medications, seizures, possible triggers, and side effects. However, the result is underway to develop a future application that can not only detect seizures but also record their duration and contact caregivers through a smartwatch.
Lack of sleep, medication, and alcohol are the most common triggers for epilepsy, and thus FDA-approved smartwatches can help in epilepsy management by monitoring sleep and physical activity, identifying seizures, and sending prompt alerts to caregivers.
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.
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