Healthtech Basics: Connected Care, Remote Patient Care, and the Internet of Medical Things

Encora | September 01, 2021

The medical industry was stretched to unforeseen limits with the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. Healthcare providers needed to find ways to deal with the surge in emergency care while ensuring ongoing and routine care for patients. Technology provided the solution, granting new possibilities for hospitals and clinics to connect with patients.

While telemedicine was once a personal choice, the pandemic has turned it into a necessity. The healthtech landscape has changed with the ease of access to patients and their up-to-date records, allowing healthcare providers to go further than just monitoring treatment progress or a patient’s vital signs. Thanks to the use of technological solutions, health professionals can now offer 24/7 comprehensive medical care.

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Connected Care

Connected Care is an umbrella term that refers to quality healthcare with a high degree of personalization for individual patients that is accessible through technology. In contrast to more traditional healthcare, Connected Care patients receive treatment without the need to visit a hospital or a doctor’s office. In addition, while it can focus on treating patients solely when they are sick, it can also monitor a person’s health to prevent illness.

In short, Connected Care establishes real-time, digital communication between a patient and a provider. The main goal is to improve access to care, providing an alternate option to costly healthcare services.

Benefits

Connected Care is beneficial because it:

  • Enhances the connection between health providers and patients while lowering costs
  • Enables self-managed care through technological solutions within a secure and private environment
  • Assists chronic care management
  • Improves patient health outcomes

 

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Remote Patient Care

Remote Patient Care (RPC) applies in cases of chronic illness or when a person does not have access to healthcare infrastructure. It provides patients with more independence while at the same time reducing personal costs since medical professionals monitor their health remotely. RPC can keep track of conditions such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, and even hemodialysis. In a post-COVID-19 reality, efficient patient management involves monitoring from home for any disease.

Challenges

The key to making an impact through RPC is to ensure inclusiveness. It can reduce the barrier cost for those in need and improve health outcomes only if its availability is guaranteed to chronically ill patients throughout the economic spectrum.

Here are some factors to keep in mind for the effective leveraging of RPC:

Ease of use and implementation - Seamless accessibility and implementation from both a patient and provider perspective is the best way to ensure ease of use. Technology should not be an obstacle for either group.


High-quality at low-cost solutions - High-quality solutions have traditionally come at a high cost for healthcare providers. For RPC to succeed as an ROI strategy for both patients and providers, solutions must combine the high-quality clinical impact of monitoring devices with the low-cost delivery of an SMS message.


Inclusivity implies scalability - Modular and robust RPC solutions are paramount if providers are aiming to provide care for a variety of patient needs. Current RPC solutions focus on critical conditions or chronic illnesses but do not consider patients who require more than biometric measures; for instance, those who would benefit from qualitative symptom readings and evaluations of risk drivers such as social determinants and behavioral health.

Ultimately, if they wish to establish a stable revenue through RPC, providers must create clinical value. Digitization continues to be the central axis around which the world revolves; therefore, it is crucial for health systems to develop comprehensive virtual solutions centered on the patient.

Developing RPC Software

The development of remote care solutions needs to meet a wide variety of patient needs. Since this will allow them to remain connected to their health providers around the clock, RPC increases patient engagement. Moreover, RPC solutions reduce admission rates and hospital stays for those with less critical needs, allowing providers to allocate resources more effectively.

The main approaches when developing remote patient care applications are:

  • Questionnaires - a simple approach that lets patients ask a series of questions to receive feedback on their condition.
  • Precise Medical Solutions - apps that let doctors and care providers collect patient data for research purposes.
  • Telehealth - as more robust solutions, telehealth applications enable consultations via video chat for assessments and ongoing treatment.
  • IoT - these apps collect real-time data from intelligent sensors or health trackers, which is then provided to the doctor.

Internet of Medical Things

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is a term used to refer to devices used to care for patients remotely. These include a range of sensors, consumer-grade wearables, local data storage, and medical-grade mechanisms.

Advantages of IoMT

The use of this type of device proves beneficial because it leads to:

  • Fewer mistakes in record-keeping
  • Lower costs of care
  • More accurate diagnoses

Example of IoMT

  • Fitness trackers. The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA used fitness trackers to demonstrate they could evaluate patients with ischemic heart disease by recording their combined heart rate and accelerometer data.
  • Smart Pills. Devices that contain microscopic sensors can measure medication treatment effectiveness through sensing, imaging, and drug delivery. In addition, they improve clinical outcomes by using biosensors or image, chemical, or pH sensors to enable timely diagnoses.

 

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Consumer-grade and Medical-grade Devices

Consumer-grade devices are beginning to become mainstream, as seen with the arrival of the Apple Watch 4 and its heart monitoring technology that the FDA has approved. In a similar vein, people who have to monitor their sinus rhythm constantly can now have an EKG machine on their wrists, leading to an interesting paradigm for medical-grade devices.

Innovation is a global driving force. As it continues its forward momentum, the line between consumer-grade and medical-grade devices will become thinner, allowing for the emergence and success of low-cost yet clinically valued solutions.

About Encora

Encora is an industry leader in product engineering services. We help technology companies to build digital products and platforms that are best-in-class. Our nearshore and offshore teams combine enterprise-grade agile software engineering approaches, consumer-grade experiences, and data-driven insights.

Encora can accelerate time-to-market and adoption, enabling disruptive healthtech companies to focus on making an impact with new solutions and approaches. We bring a breadth of experience working with leaders in Telehealth & Virtual Care, Patient Engagement, Remote Patient Monitoring & Connected Care, Hospital Administration, and EHR & Revenue Cycle Management.

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