Patients open to remote monitoring to reduce doctor visits, survey shows

Overall interest in wearables devices such as Fitbit or the Apple Watch was high, with more than half of those polled saying they would use such a device at home.
By Nathan Eddy
10:09 AM

With remote patient monitoring a hot topic among healthcare providers, a new survey indicates patients would be open to outfitting themselves with wearable devices if it resulted in fewer trips to visit the doctor.

WHY IT MATTERS
The study of 100 participants ages 40 and over, conducted by connected healthcare solutions provider VivaLNK, found nearly two-thirds (64 percent) would put on a wearable health monitoring device if it meant it reducing the number of trips made to visit a doctor or hospital.

Overall interest in wearables like a Fitbit or the Apple Watch for remote patient monitoring purposes was high, with more than half (55 percent) of respondents noting they would use such a device at home.

THE LARGER TREND
Healthcare organizations see the potential of RMS in combination with telehealth for convenience and cost savings, and many are currently exploring how to adopt it.

In one case, use of an inhaler-connected sensor helped push the average number of COPD-related hospital trips down to an average of 2.2, compared to the year prior to study enrollment (when the average was 3.4), a recent study from the Cleveland Clinic medical center and Propeller Health found.

For another example, ClearSky Medical Diagnostics currently employs Shimmer Research wearables for clinical trials, a partnership that uses Shimmer’s Verisense platform to improve analysis of sensor data for central nervous system diseases.

And among the new products unveiled at HIMSS19 this past February was VitalConnect’s Vista Solution 2.0, which added a weight scale, blood pressure and pulse oximetry and core temperature reader to the existing eight vital sign measurements monitored by the company’s VitalPatch biosensor.

However, there is evidence to suggest the potential benefits of RMS – not to mention the accuracy of certain devices or the security with which sensitive information is stored or transmitted – has not been fully studied. 

"Remote patient monitoring … will be increasingly important," Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO Dr. John Halamka wrote on his blog earlier this year. But while "many thought leaders are convinced that remote patient monitoring improves patient care," he said, "surveys suggest that health-care professionals are still not convinced."

ON THE RECORD
"Remote patient monitoring and the wearable devices that make it possible are not new concepts, but there's more progress that can be made by understanding patient motivations," Jiang Li, CEO of VivaLNK, said in a statement. "While the appointment can't always be avoided, RPM is the key to reducing the time, energy and money it takes to physically visit a doctor's office."

As Li noted and the survey also indicated, costs of the appointment, distance, and disliking healthcare facilities were all top reasons survey respondents gave for wanting to reduce physical visits to the doctor.

"Patients have always disliked visiting the doctor's office, and now there's a way to mitigate that,” Li continued. “This survey highlights what really fuels and drives consumer behavior from a healthcare perspective."

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.com
Twitter: @dropdeaded209