Leveraging Remote Monitoring to Care for Patient Populations

Guest Authored by Arnol Rios, Head of Business Development, Takeoff Point LLC, a Sony Company

Remote monitoring of patients and people with chronic conditions has always been of interest to me. There have been some incredible advances made in medicine over the last 50 years where we are now able to treat many conditions that were once fatal. Yet, at the same time, the prevalence of some diseases has increased to a rate that was hard to predict and understand even now – such as the sharp increases in allergic conditions and autism rates. Today, the whole world is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic that is changing the way we think about healthcare delivery.  The threat of a major infectious disease pandemic or some sort of plague has been discussed for decades and now that we are faced with one, the threat of the next one seems more real.

Remote healthcare delivery and remote monitoring of patients and those at high risk have tried with varying amounts of success for the last 20+ years.  I recall that 20 years ago, some of the more tech-savvy diabetics that I knew were connecting their glucose meters to a modem cable to transmit their glucose values from their home to their doctor’s office. I thought it was a wonderful thing as it saved so much time from having to drive to a doctor’s office and wait to be seen for a consultation to review their glucose values written down in a logbook. This worked well for some people, but the vast majority did not want to bother with a cable and it never gained wide adoption.

Today, we have an abundance of technologies to enable remote monitoring. The high number of mobile and wearable devices plus the various formats of communication available to transmit information can seem overwhelming at times. Our smart-phones today have more processing capabilities than the laptops we were using in 1999 and yet making things simple to use is still the hardest and often missing piece of the puzzle. It seems that technology companies have been focusing on making things faster, more powerful, and cheaper.  These are all good things of course but we also need to pay more attention to making things easier to use, more accessible, and more intuitive to ensure they can be used by all – not just the younger generations that have grown up using mobile technology.

When it comes to healthcare in the US, there are some additional challenges to consider. The healthcare system is very fragmented in the sense that there are hundreds of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems out there and most of them do not easily interface to one another to allow sharing of information.  There is no national healthcare ID system in the US and every healthcare system will assign a unique Medical Record Number (MRN) and has its own portal or gateway to access and review information. This makes merging records difficult and complicates the sharing of information between providers and systems. Another complication for remote monitoring is lack of or low reimbursement where luckily there have been some improvements quite recently, partly driven by the reality of dealing with Covid-19 that is making remote monitoring more acceptable and sometimes the only option available.  The value of remote monitoring is very real and easily understood, but we must work on simplifying how it is deployed and reducing barriers to enable its wider use and adoption.

Arnol Rios is the head of sales and business development for a business entity within Sony that provides platforms leveraging 4G/5G IoT communication technology to enable next-generation health and wellness solutions. Arnol is a healthcare executive with over 20 years of experience working with consumer and Point-of-Care healthcare companies.

Editors Note:

See Arnol present at the upcoming ATA2020 Virtual Conference, June 22-26th.  Join him for his On Demand session titled Evolution of Remote Monitoring.