The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the uptake of remote patient monitoring (RPM), breaking down obstacles to its adoption by necessity.
The benefits of remote monitoring (RPM) for patients, clinicians, healthcare systems and society as a whole are becoming ever clearer. Virtual Wards for monitoring people with COVID-19 and other conditions is now a national policy with £450 million over the next two years being provided for implementation across England.
RPM makes regular, frequent monitoring of a patient’s clinical observations possible, leading to a closer understanding of how a patient’s condition is responding to treatment. The opportunity to gather data systematically through RPM can support HCPs in predicting a patient’s response to treatment and greater understanding when dose adjustments may be required. These real-time insights thus have the potential to generate improved patient outcomes through better informed clinical decision-making, leading to personalised and optimised treatment regimens.
For patients, RPM offers convenience; liberating time spent on GP or hospital appointments for work or family commitments. In this period of financial uncertainty, saving money spent on transport to appointments and car parking fees is an added bonus with benefits for the environment too. Being able to monitor your own condition can also be very empowering for patients, inspiring behavioural change due to a better understanding of, and engagement with, their treatment.
RPM also frees up healthcare professionals’ time, playing a key role in making the NHS more sustainable by optimising precious resources and allowing HCPs to allocate their time more efficiently – focusing on those patients needing more support. There is also the prospect of RPM being used to alleviate the NHS backlog, reducing waiting lists by allowing many patients to be monitored at home and keeping face-to-face appointments for those with more urgent needs.
However, remote healthcare has not been universally welcomed and barriers to adoption still remain, not least the fear of leaving vulnerable patients behind if the UK government’s ‘Digital First’ policy in reality means ‘digital only’. As healthcare communication experts we can acknowledge that without the jolt and urgency of COVID-19, it would have taken a long time to shift behaviours and change mindsets from the status quo. However, our focus now should be on ensuring RPM can work for everyone.
By Lorraine Walters, Practice Leader, Say Communications
*This post first appeared in the print edition of PME.