Managing Director, Microtest
Advances in technology combined with growing demand from patients could help to trigger a revolution in remote health monitoring over the next five years.
A recent report from Berg Insight has highlighted how quickly the usage of remote health monitoring is expanding. Berg Insight estimate that, in 2016, 7.1 million patients were remotely connected to health monitoring devices. They expect to see this number grow by over 40% per annum for the foreseeable future.
Remote health monitoring can be a fantastic way of improving patient care by giving them greater involvement in managing their health and providing continuous tracking of their symptoms, so that interventions can be made before any problems become acute. Devices now exist that can measure a whole host of vital signs, including heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, glucose and oxygen saturation. These make it possible for people who suffer from chronic conditions to live more independent and active lives.
The adoption of remote health monitoring is being aided by the fact that the technology is becoming much more user-friendly and unobtrusive to wear, with light and portable devices that enable patients to carry on with their normal activities.
Increasingly, the software that tracks all this information can be integrated into devices that patients are already using in their day to day lives, such as smartphones and tablets, which will help to speed up adoption.
Another key factor is that patients no longer need to self-report their data. Remote monitoring devices can be wirelessly connected to the internet so that data is uploaded automatically, which is much more convenient for the patients and improves the accuracy and reliability of the information.
All of this will help to support a system where, in the future, more consultation and clinics can be carried out online, reducing the pressure on our GP surgeries and enabling patients to be discharged from hospital earlier.
This kind of technology becomes even more important when you consider our aging population and the number of people living with chronic conditions. Age UK have estimated that, if current trends continue, by 2030 there will be 6.25 million older people living with a long-term illness or disability – nearly 9% of our total population.
A report issued by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in the last few weeks has claimed that remote health monitoring of this kind could drastically reduce bed blocking at hospitals and potentially save the NHS over £1 billion in a five-year period.
With the work that we do at Microtest on clinical IT solutions and electronic patient record sharing, we have seen first-hand the huge benefits that better information systems can bring in terms of the speed, efficiency and quality of patient care. Over the next five years, the growth of remote monitoring is set to bring a whole new dimension to the way our healthcare system operates. And, as more people become aware of their potential, there is bound to be a surge in patient demand for these brilliant new technologies.