Remote cardiac monitoring programs have potential, but they're still falling short
Photo: Yoshiyoshi Hirokawa/Getty Images
A report released Wednesday from Vector Remote Care found that cardiology practices taking a patient-centric approach to remote cardiac monitoring report improved clinical and financial outcomes.
That said, nearly half of physician respondents said that only 20% or less of their heart disease patients are connected consistently – indicating a missed opportunity.
"These numbers are not surprising, as RCM is still relatively new," said Kristin Stitt, chief clinical officer at Vector, in a statement.
"Strong satisfaction with a program that has low connection rates indicates that many practices focus on getting the devices up and running, but are not fully aware of what is possible when you design your program around patient care," Stitt added.
WHY IT MATTERS
Remote cardiac monitoring has been proven to be beneficial for reducing in-person visits and reducing the time to diagnose clinical events.
That said, RCM technology is still maturing.
To get a sense of how clinicians are using cardiac monitoring tools, Vector conducted a survey of cardiology practices between February 8 and March 31 targeting electrophysiologists, cardiologists, cardiac device technicians, cardiology practice managers, nurses, allied medical professionals, cardiac medical assistants and cardiovascular service line leaders.
The report found that, overall, consistent connectivity was lacking – even though a strong majority of respondents rate their program as good or excellent.
For instance, nearly all of the respondents are doing remote monitoring for rhythm management, but about one-third of those practices have less than 60% of their patients regularly connected.
Additionally, only two-thirds of respondents are monitoring for heart failure, and fewer than 19% are monitoring for hypertension.
"Capturing actionable warning signs in a timely manner offers clinicians more options aimed at preventing those outcomes and improving the patient’s quality of life," notes the report.
The report also flagged a potential mismatch between the administrative burden of RCM on staff and the awareness of said burden on physicians.
Two-thirds of staff ranked reviewing alerts and keeping up with administrative work as the number one problem in maintaining their remote monitoring program. Physicians did not cite this problem nearly as often – which could potentially contribute to future turnover.
Overall, nearly three-quarters of respondents said improving patient outcomes is the first or second priority for their monitoring program over the next year.
"Advanced technology cannot solve the challenges alone. Unless it is paired with effective change management – which incorporates an understanding of how to divide and execute on RCM’s essential clinical, technological, and administrative tasks – technology will inevitably disappoint," read the report.
THE LARGER TREND
Although remote monitoring of cardiac devices has been "the standard of care" for years, it's clear from the report that clinicians (and patients) are not universally taking advantage of RPM tools.
Still, wearable tech and remote monitoring have taken on new importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The realm of atrial fibrillation detection is particularly exciting given the advantage that comes from early identification.
ON THE RECORD
"There are hundreds to thousands of stories where remote monitoring has made it easier to care for patients and, in many cases, to save lives," said electrophysiologist Dr. Christopher Porterfield, who assisted with survey development and analysis of the responses, in a statement accompanying the report.