Emily Newton, Revolutionized Magazine
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Telemedicine and Remote Monitoring Dominate in 2021

By Emily Newton
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Emily Newton, Revolutionized Magazine

Telemedicine and remote monitoring became one of the defining medtech trends of the last year, and they show no signs of slowing.

As the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, telemedicine became an option prioritized by many healthcare providers rather than something they used occasionally. With the virus spreading quickly and many people dealing with medical conditions that could elevate their overall risk, seeing patients remotely became the preferred choice for everyone involved.

Similarly, remote monitoring lets providers track patient trends outside of what signs they may catch during a scheduled visit. It also became instrumental in freeing up beds as the public health crisis strained medical resources. When a patient recovered enough to leave the hospital but still needed some supervision, remote monitoring technology provided it.

This article takes a look at why these technologies will maintain prominence in medicine throughout the remainder of 2021 and beyond.

Patients Like Telemedicine Options and Will Continue Using Them

Telemedicine can only keep its momentum if patients decide they want to use such services regularly. They are more likely to reach that conclusion if any telehealth platforms they tried gave positive experiences.

A recent survey indicated positive trends in both those regards, however. The research involved adults across the United States who had at least one telehealth experience during the pandemic. The results showed that 79% of people felt satisfied with the interaction. Additionally, 83% of respondents reported that telehealth enabled strong communications between physicians and patients.

There were other signs of people continuing to embrace telehealth, too. For example, 76% of people said telehealth eliminated transportation barriers that complicated seeking care. In addition, 78% of respondents stated the service addressed their health concerns. People usually didn’t need to go to an unfamiliar provider to have a remote visit, either. That’s because 78% of people said their providers offered it.

Moreover, 73% expected to continue using telemedicine beyond the pandemic. These statistics don’t represent all potential users of telehealth services, of course. However, they suggest patients generally find them appealing and will keep using them when available.

Providers Feel Eager to Continue Offering Telehealth Post-Pandemic

Medical professionals largely agree that telemedicine was a good thing during COVID-19 and helps them provide better care overall. A study published in November 2020 polled providers during the summer of that year to get a detailed overview of how they feel about telemedicine.

The results showed that 68% either agreed or strongly agreed that they were motivated to keep offering such services in their practice. Even more promising was that 71% of providers said their organization’s leadership had a similar commitment to the offerings.

At the time of the study, most respondents (60.5%) had only used telemedicine for 4–6 months. However, once the pandemic began, most ramped up quickly. Before COVID-19 officially became a pandemic, 92.5% of respondents averaged five telemedicine visits per week or fewer. However, 38.6% of people said they conducted more than 20 each week after that point.

Other findings in the study showed that physicians are particularly on board with providing certain types of care via telemedicine in the post-pandemic world. For example, 72.9% wanted to offer chronic disease management, and 52.6% hoped to deliver preventive care through telehealth tools.

Telehealth could also greatly expand mental health care availability. A different study found that 74% of Americans did not view such services as highly accessible to the general population. As people face the various personal traumas caused by COVID-19, many will undoubtedly find that mental health services are even more vital.

Most Americans Are Open to Remote Monitoring

The rise of fitness tracker brands like Fitbit got people acquainted with the idea of tracking certain metrics that could translate to better health, such as step counts and sleep quality. Many devices included functionality to let people send the data directly to their doctors.

Remote monitoring that occurs under the direction of physicians has recently become more popular, too. Patients often present with complaints that don’t manifest during in-office examinations. Gathering information about a person over a longer period gives a physician a clearer picture of their overall condition.

A June 2021 study also indicated that the majority of Americans polled don’t object to their healthcare providers getting ongoing data about them. More specifically, 70% are open to remote blood pressure monitoring, while 68% agree to heart rate checks. Then, 66% are okay with remote blood sugar observation, and 65% consent to blood oxygen verifications done that way.

Then, 43% of the survey participants cited remote monitoring’s convenience as a major benefit. More control over their health was a factor for 37%, while 36% appreciated the peace of mind that remote monitoring gave them.

These Technologies Support Patients With Chronic Illnesses

Healthcare providers continually look for technological options with a high chance of improving patient outcomes. Telemedicine and remote monitoring can achieve that goal.

Telemedicine Helps Migraine Sufferers During COVID-19

Factors ranging from stress to not eating frequently enough can cause headaches. Although many people who get them find them minimally disruptive and treatable with over-the-counter painkillers, that’s not the case for everyone.

A study of people who saw neurologists to treat their chronic migraines during COVID-19 found that telemedicine was a suitable format after patients saw their providers once in-person for a consultation.

The research split people into two groups. Half of the participants saw the same neurologist for a year of follow-up care in-person, while the others used telemedicine for that period. People in the telemedicine group felt more satisfied with their outcomes overall compared to the in-person group. They liked the decreased travel time associated with that format and how it didn’t require missing work.

Remote Monitoring Reduced the Need for Cancer Patient Hospitalization From COVID-19

For some patients, COVID-19 was a threat on top of other life-threatening conditions. A Mayo Clinic study of more than 8,000 cancer patients in 41 states examined the benefits of remote monitoring after a COVID-19 diagnosis. Participants had in-home technology to measure their vital signs, oxygen levels and symptom severity.

The results showed a 78% reduction in hospitalization risk for someone who had remote monitoring. That was versus a 13% drop for people not taking part in that program. Moreover, when participants did need hospital care, those who previously received remote monitoring had fewer hospitalizations lasting more than a week, intensive care admissions, and deaths.

Researchers said the early results indicated that remote monitoring altered the COVID-19 trajectory. However, they cautioned that it was necessary to research that outcome more thoroughly to confirm it.

Although these two examples relate to COVID-19 care, they also highlight how the technologies will remain relevant even once the pandemic ends. People will always want opportunities to receive convenient, high-quality care that increases their chances of positive outcomes. Telehealth and remote monitoring platforms can provide those ideals and others.

Expect Telemedicine and Remote Monitoring to Stay Relevant

These statistics and examples emphasize why it’s highly likely that remote monitoring and telemedicine will keep having high adoption rates. Patients and providers alike are getting used to them and understanding their value.

Resource

  1. The COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition Telehealth Impact Study Working Group “Telehealth Impact: Physician Survey Analysis”. (November 16, 2020. The MITRE Corp.

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