According to Oren Goldshtein, CEO of Vectorious Medical Technologies, remote patient monitoring is needed now more important than ever. Nobody knows how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last or what it means for the future of treatment. Even more disconcerting for the rare disease community is that nobody knows how COVID-19 interacts with certain disorders. To promote better care in the future, the medical community should look to technological advances to fill the gaps.
The Meaning of Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring technologies will be a $536 million market by 2022.
When I refer to remote patient monitoring, I’m not just referring to telemedicine. I’m referring to doctors and clinicians being able to use data on your medical condition in that moment.
For example, what if there were sensors that could tell you when you were exposed to or infected with COVID-19? Or for patients with lupus nephritis, what if your doctors could become aware as soon as your condition progressed towards kidney failure? If doctors and researchers were able to harness comprehensive data sets as soon as that data was available, it would permanently change the course of medical treatment. After all, the earlier a condition is detected, the earlier it can be addressed.
In addition to patients being able to receive targeted care and prevent health damage, researchers would be able to test new solutions or understand the implications of certain data.
Importance of Remote Patient Monitoring
With COVID-19 sweeping the country, hospitals and doctor’s offices are full. For patients worried about their condition or who are experiencing certain symptoms, this can be terrifying! How do you know whether you need to get looked at – and brave the hospital – or whether you’re actually okay? Much like telemedicine, remote patient monitoring technologies would allow patients to receive remote care, lessening the threat of viral exposure.
Additionally, Goldshtein claims that this technology would lead to lower hospitalizations and more resources given to those in need. During a crisis, resource distribution can be difficult. Just consider the current issue with ventilators. By knowing who needs what, monitoring tech would be minimally invasive while maximizing positive patient outcomes.
What Would this Technology Consist Of?
You know those smartwatches that people love? This kind of technology would be similar. Remote patient monitoring tech would be either wearable or implantable, depending on the patient and their needs. However, Goldshtein notes that wearable technology cannot provide the level of data needed to provide adequate patient care. Rather, he advocates for the widespread acceptance of medical implants.
For example, implantable technology (sensors) could predict heart attacks or worsening of lung disease. It could track glucose levels or identify cardiac arrhythmias. If patients were trying new therapeutic options, this technology could track adverse reactions as research data.
While remote monitoring technologies and implantable sensors are available, the field is still rapidly developing. Some conditions currently being treated by medical technologies include:
- Glaucoma, conditions causing progressive nerve damage in the eye. Patients with glaucoma may have congenital glaucoma, pseudoexfoliation syndrome, neovascular glaucoma, and iridocorneal endothelial syndrome. A buildup of pressure harms the optic nerve, which could eventually lead to vision loss. Learn more about glaucoma here.
- Current treatments for glaucoma include prescription eye drops and surgical solutions. For remote patient monitoring technologies, some companies use injectable sensors that can detect the progression of glaucoma.
- Diabetes mellitus, in which a patient’s body does not make enough insulin and cannot get enough energy from food being eaten. Learn more about diabetes mellitus here.
- Glucose monitoring, insulin pumps, and other technologies have helped patients with diabetes manage their care.
- Heart failure, which affects millions of people across the globe.
- Insertable or implantable monitoring systems can track irregular heartbeats, measure heart pressure, or predict heart attacks.
Ultimately, COVID-19 and remote patient monitoring don’t relate on the surface. But COVID-19 has taught doctors and patients alike the importance of being able to recognize one’s health situation in the moment – especially during a crisis. Utilizing this technology in the future will not only help patients with rare diseases or chronic conditions; it will create a better and more comprehensive standard of care.