Remote patient monitoring devices and technologies have been used in healthcare for quite some time. But in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption of these digital tools has proceeded at a more urgent pace.
Clinics and other practices should not fall behind. It is being shown that, despite the challenges in adoption, they have done a lot of work reducing the load of hospitals that are struggling to provide care in the most affected countries. Remote patient monitoring tools can mean less people crowding the emergency room, more data for the experts to study and an overall better response to the crisis.
A clinic that reduces its workload in a similar way will certainly be more helpful in the current situation. And at bare minimum, reducing the number of people visiting during such time will also reduce the chances of the coronavirus spreading further.
Of course, some might think that this is easier said than done. The platforms and devices necessary for more remote patient monitoring may appear too costly for the average practice.
Hence, it’s important to plan this out one step at a time with the focus on being able to monitor patients without the need for too many visits unless serious intervention is required. Here are a couple of suggestions.
1. Start with any current mobile options.
Say, for example, you’re a veterinary clinic. You might have patient monitors that are already small enough and portable enough to allow quick patient setup no matter what the location.
Such patient monitors already come built in with tools to record and export data. And more often than not, the other devices they will need for monitoring are equally portable.
What if you simply extended your operations by having staff provide care remotely in a given area? Popup medical facilities and field hospitals are certainly becoming a common response to COVID-19. It is only a matter of time before smaller practices and clinics follow suit in order to continue providing essential care.
2. Improve online communication.
It is important to remember that patient monitoring isn’t just defined by gadgets and software, but by communication and exchange of information.
Because even without any infrastructure, organisations continue to use things like email, web chat and video conferences to keep everyone up to speed. It may not be efficient but it is better if professionals at least get accustomed to engaging with patients outside of the clinic setting.
And if anything else, it can help self-quarantined patients from adding onto the problem by giving them one less reason to leave their homes.
Overall, despite the reality of growing COVID-19 cases, it doesn’t help when the greater number of the population pushes their local emergency rooms beyond capacity out of mass panic. Technologies like remote patient monitoring might prove pivotal to the ability of healthcare professionals to also flatten the curve. It can help patient lists become more manageable, reduce the risk of spread and free up more resources for those who are in more dire need during this difficult period.