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Remote Patient Monitoring & Telehealth: What Will The Future Of Healthcare Look Like Post-Pandemic?

5 minutes min read

By Courtney Waring

Consultant - Medical Devices

It’s true, the pandemic has revealed many weaknesses within the healthcare system. But at the same time, it has signalled towards several areas of opportunity, namely, through technological innovation. 

RPM (remote patient monitoring) is not a new concept. However, no longer able to rely on typical in-person doctor visits during the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for RPM and telehealth soared. According to a report from S&P Global, telehealth patient volume increased 3,000% - 4,000% across the US during the early stages of lockdown. Meanwhile, global venture capital funding for digital health companies shattered records with $6.3 billion in funding during the first half of 2020. Peter Antall, chief medical officer for the telehealth provider Amwell, commented, "As we got into March and April, we saw growth like nobody could have ever predicted or planned for; it was just remarkable." 

Indeed, with the market for at-home medical devices expected to double in size over the next 5 years, what does this mean for the future of healthcare?

The Demand:

Patients, health professionals and care managers alike are driving adoption rates:

Patients are calling for new ways of care:

  • 1 in 3 adults suffer from multiple chronic conditions
  • 75% of healthcare consumers expect more personalized healthcare experiences
  • 40% of health consumers believe they will continue to use telehealth (up from 11% pre-pandemic)

(Phillips: digital transformation, shaping the future of healthcare report)

At the same time, practitioners are feeling the strain of inefficiency:

  • 42% of physicians report feeling burnt out
  • 12.1 million projected global shortage of skilled healthcare workers by 2035
  • 25% of total healthcare expenditure is wasted, with administrative complexity being the main source of waste

(Phillips: digital transformation, shaping the future of healthcare report)

Welcoming Patients Through a Digital Front Door May Be the Norm:

According to the Royal College of General Practitioners, 71% of routine consultations were remote in the four weeks leading up to April 2020, compared to the 25% in the same period in 2019. Without a doubt, this is a tremendous shift in how we access public health care. 

As a result, many healthcare providers have looked at communication technologies with a new perspective. We spoke to Precision Medicine and Diagnostics Associate Director Vicky Kerrigan, she shared her own insights; “virtual care could be the solution to plugging many of the operational gaps within the current care model system. For example, the gap between going to the doctor and being referred to the hospital.” She added, “RPM monitoring allows rapid data collection and processing - this means that patients' problems are already acute by the time they go into the hospital, saving valuable triage time and resources. For example, ECG blood pressure monitoring from wearable devices will alert a clinician if there is a change in the patient's blood pressure level, before visible symptoms present themselves.”


Certainly, incorporating RPM into a patient’s chronic disease management may improve patients’ quality of life by allowing them to maintain independence, prevent complications, and minimize personal costs. It can be especially helpful for patients who are managing more complex self-care processes such as post-operative care, home dialysis, diabetes or congestive heart failure. (Pharma Times).

Moreover, patient no-shows disrupt workflow, leave staff and equipment underutilized, and costs millions. Communication technologies provide patients with helpful reminders and health information regarding their upcoming appointments, helping relieve anxiety whilst relaying important information. Studies have shown that such automated reminders can lead to a 42% reduction in patient no-shows and a 67% reduction in poor patient preparation.

Funding:

Of course, the colossal acceleration in vaccine development platforms over the past 2 years has been unprecedented. The most notable names include Moderna and BioNTech, who used mRNA platforms to bring the first Covid-19 vaccines to market in late 2020. 

However, many people don't realize that artificial intelligence played a major role developing these mRNA vaccines. We spoke to CSG’s Precision Medicine, and Diagnostics Associate Director Vicky Kerrigan, who explained the significant impact AI in data analytics and data reading has had. She gave a recent example in Oncology and revealed how AI data processing saves a considerable amount of time - the machine can read large sequences of the genome quicker than any human could, thus, spotting anomalies quicker for researchers and patients alike. 

What does this mean for the future of healthcare? It means that long term health outcomes are significantly stronger. Because AI can process genome data quicker, we are able to find anomalies within the genome faster and diagnose patients with cancer quicker. 

Indeed, access to care as we know is likely to change. Several primary care providers and external investors are seeing the value in remote patient care and are already investing big.

Doctor OnDemand expanded its critical virtual medical services to 33 million Medicare Part B beneficiaries across all 50 U.S. states--helping make it a standard solution.

A new triage solution 98point6, that allows people to interface with an artificial intelligence system before seeing a human doctor witnessed significant growth. 

These innovative companies highlight a permanent shift in patient behaviour toward looking to online and mobile sources of trusted, AI-generated healthcare content prior to talking to a doctor.

Challenges To Telehealth Adoption:

But to turn this vision into a reality, healthcare leaders need to overcome several barriers. The Philips Future Health Index 2021 report revealed that healthcare leaders found difficulties with: 

  • data management 44% 
  • interoperability and data standards 37% 
  • lack of training on how to fully utilize digital health technology 32%

Indeed, healthcare providers have two key challenges to overcome before we can fully adopt telehealth services. 

The first is collaboration. Successful RPM requires real-time collaboration between GP practices and a network of other healthcare providers and technologies to ensure the right patients are treated at the right time

CSG’s Medical Devices expert Gary Logan told us that “the USA is far more forthcoming with RPM because they operate via a private model. However, the UK (for example) is more concerned with breaking even than capital gain.”

The second is talent. Gary explained, “With new procedures and new products coming in - everyone needs to be reskilled in the market so there's constant need for more training and more people coming up into the roles - people of an older age will have to reskill and get to know the products in detail”.


Moreover, alongside upskilling clinical professionals to work with new technologies, there is also huge demand for talent that can build and protect these telehealth platforms. A fundamental role of RPM is to improve the quality of data and information flow so that timely, effective and safe care can be delivered. Therefore, the protection of patient data is paramount. 

At CSG, we’re seeing the emergence of major talent hubs in Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington. Salaries are bigger but not big enough to warrant those big moves - who wants to add a 90 minute commute onto their day? At CSG, we understand talent motivations and pride ourselves on our ability to support people on their candidate journey. As a result, candidates nearly always come back to us at different stages of their career - even those who we maybe didn’t place!

Will RPM and Telehealth Become A Permanent Addition? 

It very much seems that way. Although it may be a while before you see RPM offered by public health care models, AI and technological innovation are already working behind the scenes to help identify and manage chronic conditions.  

Without a doubt, moving from pockets of digital innovation to sustained digital transformation requires a collaborative approach from healthcare professionals and a significant amount of talent. That’s where we come in. At CSG Talent, we’re curious about what the future of healthcare looks like. Our experts take an active interest in extremely niche areas, discovering new ways of working alongside technology with you. 

If you’re looking for a new role within the realm of RPM and telehealth, speak to a member of our team now.