Aging Parents’ Care — Remote Patient Monitoring

by Kevin K. Johnson, CSA

The National Institute on Aging estimates around 7 million Americans are long-distance caregivers. Aside from economic factors that often drive people far from their hometowns, shifting demographics in the country could exacerbate the issue: Over the next four decades, the share of people 65 and older is expected to rapidly expand while the number of people under 20 will roughly hold steady. That means there will be a far smaller share of people between 20 and 64, the age group that most often is faced with caregiving. That means an increasing burden on the employee that is tasked with the care of an elderly loved one. Long-distance caregiving also has a regional or even cross-town implication in which case, the 7 million figure explodes. We want to know that our loved ones are managing without having to make a personal visit or trust a voice over the phone.

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) refers to a wide variety of technologies designed to manage and monitor a range of health conditions. Point-of-care (e.g., home) monitoring devices, such as weight scales, glucometers, and blood pressure monitors, may standalone to collect and report health data, or they may become part of a fully integrated health data collection, analysis, and reporting system that communicates to multiple nodes of the health system, and provides alerts when health conditions decline.

Think of RPM as a 5-step process:      CollectTransmitEvaluateNotifyIntervene

Technologies that support RPM are particularly useful for the elderly, chronically ill, and people who have trouble accessing traditional sites of care and for caregivers to be assured that their loved ones are well. RPM technologies provide essential support for the coordination of care, behavior change (of providers as well as patients), and evidence-based decision support for patients. There are features of remote patient monitoring that can be used by patients, providers, and caregivers. An ideal remote patient monitoring solution takes into account the needs of all three.

As the workforce is increasingly impacted by eldercare issues , without being intrusive, I believe that RPM technologies will begin to play a greater role in helping us to provide the oversight we need that assure our loved ones are fine. I’ll be providing detailed information on specific RPM solutions in future blog postings. I’ll be illuminating practical solutions that can be leveraged in each of the 5 specific process areas that comprise Remote Patient Monitoring.

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