An Ernst & Young study commissioned by the Canada Health Infoway found that remote patient care benefits patients and the publicly-funded healthcare system.
In a country as large and geographically diverse as Canada, remote patient monitoring (RPM) makes total sense. Some patients in rural areas, the far north or the Arctic, may live hundreds if not thousands of miles away from the nearest hospital. Rather than keep them in hospital unnecessarily after surgery, physicians can release them and monitor their recovery remotely.
In fact, RPM is a digital health innovation that is transforming the delivery of healthcare in Canada.
Studying the effects of RPM
In response, the Canadian digital health think tank, Canada Health Infoway, commissioned a study last year to investigate the benefits of RPM. The study, by Ernst & Young, examined the benefits in the context of patients being able to stay connected with their healthcare team while at home in order to prevent serious relapses in health.
The study found that remote patient monitoring results in:
- Fewer hospital readmissions
- Fewer trips to the emergency room
- Better health outcomes
- Improved quality of life for patients
- The ability of patients to manage conditions from the comfort of their homes
There were some other interesting facts revealed by the study, including:
- A national survey identified that one percent of Canadians have used medical devices that were able to capture and transmit data electronically (e.g., via Internet or SMS) to their healthcare providers for chronic disease or post-surgical discharge monitoring.
- The same study found that approximately 5,000 patients enrolled in 19 RPM programs across seven provinces and territories, which supported the continued growth of RPM by 15-20 percent annually.
- Many of the larger-scale, established programs are designed for patients with chronic conditions, such as congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and diabetes.
The study went on to say that in order to make RPM the standard of care in Canada, or an emerging standard of care, four things must happen:
- Physicians must be engaged to design RPM programs.
- Patients must be recruited and retained through continuous communication.
- Routine benefits measurements must be carried out to demonstrate the benefits to patients, physicians and healthcare policy makers.
- RPM should be integrated into the physician workflow.
The role of information technology is a critical enabler to improving health services delivery. As decision-makers consider options for delivering high quality care at the right cost, there is a need for innovative solutions that potentially reconfigure traditional service delivery models. RPM is a critical enabler for this transformation with the potential to incentivize self-management, support the delivery of care in home settings and significantly improve the patient experience.
The continued growth and sustainability of RPM programs in Canada will be dependent on consistent engagement and collaboration, recruiting and retaining the right patients, and striking an appropriate balance between integrated and coordinated care while consistently measuring and demonstrating benefits. - Connecting Patients with Providers. A Pan-Canadian Study on Remote Patient Monitoring.
Infoway recently released a new whiteboard animation that explores the benefits of RPC (also known as remote patient monitoring or RPM), and the benefits are many.
You can also watch the entire webinar on the Canada Health Infoway website, which announces the study's results.
The nuviun blog is intended to contribute to discussion and stimulate debate on important issues in global digital health. The views are solely those of the author.