The healthcare industry underlines the need for complete care & not mere simplification of technology
Undoubtedly, ‘Real-Time Monitoring’ of the physical condition of the patients is the latest buzzword doing rounds in the Indian healthcare system. In order to ensure delivery of ‘continuous care’, both wireless and with lesser human intervention, many innovators and service providers are now betting heavily upon the entire idea of portable home-based patient monitoring devices, even for critical care. In the Indian healthcare system, including an ever-growing ageing population, such an approach beyond a reasonable doubt has been unanimously welcomed by all as the right discourse to be followed. However, stakeholders continue to wonder whether such a calculated risk is based on the objective of delivering larger benefits through cost-effective solutions or can be simply considered as a money-minting strategy for short-term gains.
eHEALTH Magazine, as the voice of Indian healthcare system, wanted to investigate whether the deluge of portable home-based patient monitoring devices in the market is merely the result of random thoughts lacking conviction or a goal-oriented innovation to ensure ‘Complete Care’ by monitoring vitals, such as blood pressure, body temperature, heartbeat, etc. With fair players in the fray, patient monitoring devices can definitely enhance the better decision-making capacity. As every game has rules, similarly there is a need to define guidelines and rules for the players in this race to address the needs of patients. The healthcare industry feels that service providers should not splutter away their ideas after registering a windfall.
In order to understand the challenges and benefits of such innovations in the patient monitoring segment, following questions:
What is the future of patient monitoring with numerous scalable and portable home- based monitoring devices in the market? Do you think it will enable in meeting the challenges of patient monitoring in terms of clinical efficiency and decision-making?
How can patient monitoring can be made more effective and real time to ensure lesser medical errors and delays? Please provide details.
Here are the excerpts:
There are many portable home-based monitoring devices in the market, but very few of them are successfully thinking about the complete patient experience. It’s not sufficient anymore to just have a device that can collect vital signs, which has been solved years ago. The future of patient monitoring is the detailed design of the full workflow. Device designers have to consider everything from how the doctors prescribe this technology to how the care plan will be followed by the end patient. Even more difficult is to ensure the right data gets to the right person at the right time. Clinical efficiency and decision-making will come from solving these problems, not simply scattering devices in the hospital and home.
Patient monitoring needs to be simplified and better analysed to become more effective. Most sophisticated doctors know that adding today’s monitoring solutions generally means more nursing staff, more information overload and more headaches. Innovative companies need to focus on how more monitoring will reduce the clinical load on doctors and nurses. An effective patient monitoring system will allow doctors to half the time monitoring twice the number of patients. There is no point adding monitoring if no caregiver knows when and how to use the surplus of information.
The future looks bright with connected patient monitoring devices and smartphone pairing. Costs are significantly lower than what they used to be. Personally, I do think that better, cheaper devices will help tremendously in addressing the challenge of access and accuracy. In a lot of cases, they will help in giving data where no data existed previously. However, I don’t think it’s enough, especially in the out-of-pocket markets. Clinical efficiency requires better data, better analytics, and timely and accurate decision-making to enable better patient outcomes. To ensure better decision-making, all information to be structured in a comprehensible manner.
Patient data today is sporadic & patchy. For it to be efficient and real time, it must be made continuous where possible and more frequent where not. Better patient experience demands artificial intelligence that learns and adapts to users’ habits and behaviour, and triggers actionable messaging like notifications on smartphone apps to achieve the highest probability of patient response. These apps should be comprehensive and engaging. The main driver towards efficient and real-time data is changing the role of the patient. The patient must become an active member in this process. In order to reduce errors, the complete data has to reach the clinician at the right time, with a decision support system and analytics to equip the clinician to take better decisions.
The integration of communication technologies into patient care has provided clinicians with a game- changing solution to deliver better care, improve patient safety and enhance clinical outcomes. Portable and scalable patient monitoring equipment plays a major role in meeting the increasing demands of an ageing population, as well as in reducing hospitalisation cost and duration. These portable home-based monitoring devices are readily integrating information management and clinical decision support systems. In the coming future, with the advancement in patient monitoring equipment and integration of wireless and mobile technologies, such as the ability to store a significant amount of information on a mobile device, radio-enabled watches and a grid of body sensors, will facilitate better patient care. This will allow accessibility of critical medical information, such as blood group, allergies, and past and existing medical conditions, to be used in delivering urgent and suitable medical care. Hand-held devices will sense one or more vital signs and transmit alert messages to hospitals, ambulances and healthcare providers for getting urgent care services. In the long-term, affordability, portability and reusability of wireless technologies for patient monitoring and preventive care will also reduce the overall cost of healthcare services. However, due to several limitations, including unpredictable and spotty coverage of users by wireless networks, the quality and reliability of patient monitoring equipment would be a major concern.
In my opinion, the most effective way to ensure lesser medical errors or delays can be achieved with continuous upgradation of knowledge of nurses/caregivers about the patient psychological condition, technological updation and learning the efficient manner of data interpretation to enhance clinical decision-making. Providing nurses or caregivers with information about the patient’s physiologic status in a manner that is easy and fast to interpret will be helpful in reducing the time needed to detect any abnormality.