From the April 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
By Arik Eisenkraft
For decades, patient blood pressure (BP) has been measured using standardized oscillatory inflatable-cuff monitoring devices.
The measuring process requires a healthcare practitioner to wrap a cuff-based BP monitor around a patient’s upper arm, which then inflates and deflates to manipulate blood flow, creating detectable vibrations within the arteries. These vibrations are then recorded and analyzed to help clinicians understand patient cardiovascular health. For longer monitoring periods, the same process is replicated by automatic BP monitors in the hope that data accumulated over time can reveal more dynamic patient insights or even help identify deterioration. Unfortunately, due to the fact that inflating cuff-based monitors often startles patients and that monitoring BP solely on circumstance as opposed to patient lifestyle can lead to less-than-ideal patient results, these readings do not demonstrate a holistic view of patient heart health.
With advancements in both connectivity and vital-sign tracking capabilities of patient monitoring technologies, wireless wearable remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices unfold new opportunities within the cardiovascular space and healthcare overall. These devices enable us to look at real-time patient data - including BP - unencumbered by cuff-based monitors, allowing clinicians to holistically view patient status, even from a distance.
The power of accurate and continuous remote patient monitoring
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A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals continue to turn to new, innovative RPM devices to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and limit the spread of the virus. In a recent report, Insider Intelligence estimated that 30 million US patients, or 11.2% of the population, will use RPM tools by 2024—marking 28.2% growth from 23.4 million patients in 2020.
The reasoning behind this growing trend - beyond the remote aspect of these technologies during times of pandemic - is that wearable hospital-grade monitoring devices yield accurate results with minimal involvement from health staff. With regards to BP monitoring, the “white coat effect,” or the alerting reaction to a physician's visit which is known to induce a rise in BP, serves as a primary example of patient results being influenced by in-person vital-sign assessments.
This highlights an additional benefit, in that medical-grade RPM devices allow providers to aggregate patient results over long periods of time without constraining patient lifestyles. This means that vital-sign measurements can be taken and analyzed while patients are eating, walking and sleeping, resulting in accurate readings that properly portray patient health correlating with their actual lifestyle, not only when they have a BP cuff on their arm in a clinician’s office or breaking from their daily activities to self-monitor.