By Stuart Long
The COVID-19 pandemic had a large impact on hospital operations. As facilities became overwhelmed by COVID-19 care needs, non-COVID healthcare needs were met through the use of telehealth solutions(1). However, while virtual healthcare solved many needs, there has been a gap in relation to cardiac remote patient monitoring solutions.
At the same time, providers and healthcare facilities have recognized the need for upgraded solutions. Virtual cardiac telemetry that allows for the monitoring of patients' vital functions is a rapidly growing industry. Analysts are projecting that, by 2030, the market for remote cardiac monitoring devices alone will rise from $6.48 billion to $11.49 billion annually(2).
The issue is that current hospital telemetry systems for virtual cardiac monitoring suffer from two key issues. High-acuity telemetry tends to lack portability, while portable and especially remote units lack high acuity features that can enable telemetry on-demand for any bed or location. In a hospital, specific telemetry systems are designed to monitor patients in the most critical areas like intensive care units (ICU) whereas in areas with less acute needs, but still requiring that a patient occupies a designated step-down or progressive care telemetry bed a lower acuity continuous monitoring solution is used.
These systems monitor fewer vital signs and are not intended for severely ill or the highest acuity patients. Further, they can be limited in their portability and often are confined to specific areas of the hospital, thereby making it difficult to transport patients to non-telemetry areas of the hospital, such as radiology or cardiology. Outside of these care areas and comprising of nearly 60% of all sub-acute hospital beds in the U.S. are the general medical/surgical beds where continuous telemetry is typically not deployed and often cost prohibitive.
Continuous monitoring is often one of the only primary services many patients need from a hospital. With limited bed space and limited continuous monitoring across all beds, virtual continuous monitoring becomes the obvious solution. New advances in mobile and remote continuous telemetry can allow hospitals to accommodate a patient’s needs in any bed in the hospital or even from home, all on the same device
This is where new technology is paving the way for improved virtual telemetry. Innovative wireless ECG lead sets are allowing greater quality, precision, and flexibility from low acuity to high acuity in both inpatient and outpatient care settings.
These solutions are also designed to help patients become more engaged in their health care. When a patient presses a button on these new devices, their cardiologist receives the
patient’s data on a cell phone, tablet, or PC and can immediately make a cardiac arrhythmia diagnosis. These new telemetry devices are being designed specifically for hospital telemetry to provide a step-down level of telemetry for any bed or location that would need an easy-to-deploy mobile telemetry monitor without the need to admit or transfer a patient to an expensive dedicated telemetry bed. In some cases, patients can be discharged sooner, and the monitoring can seamlessly transition to the home setting allow for material healthcare cost savings and improved patient experience and recovery.
In addition to providing improved telemetry options for cardiac monitoring, new technology is also intended to support a range of compatible third-party RPM (remote patient monitoring) devices, such as blood pressure cuffs, oximeters, and scales. This helps tie together the entire process of remote monitoring, providing doctors with real-time insights into the health of their patients regardless of where they are being treated.
Using advanced virtual telemetry technology, providers and healthcare facilities are opening the doors to a future where cardiac monitoring can be better managed without taking up critical bed space. This, in turn, can help move patients out of the ICU or even med/surg bed sooner while ensuring the best and highest level of virtual cardiac monitoring. And it opens the possibility for hospital-at-home care, even for patients with complex cardiac monitoring needs.
As much of this technology is in its earliest stages, there is incredible room for growth. In the future, both healthcare providers and their patients look to benefit from improved remote health monitoring. Not only is this beneficial in the near term, but it is also helping healthcare facilities better prepare for the potential of future pandemics. With an increased ability to monitor patients safely from the comfort of their homes, hospitals and other facilities will be better equipped to save bed space for critical needs.
Author’s Bio Stuart Long is the CEO of InfoBionic. InfoBionic’s digital technology has transformed the efficiency and economics of cardiac remote patient monitoring. The company’s MoMe™ARC platform has removed the roadblocks hindering remote diagnosis and decision-making. The Massachusetts-based team of seasoned entrepreneurs have had successful careers in healthcare, IT, medical devices, and mobile technology. They bring specific expertise in remote monitoring and cardiology. More recently, working side by side with the healthcare and medical technology communities, including its own competitors, InfoBionic has developed MoMe®Now, the first virtual telemetry system for high-acuity patients in the remote, virtual, or hospital-at-home care environments. Visit https://InfoBionic.com
1. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Trends in Use of Telehealth Among Health Centers During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 26–November 6, 2020. February 2021.
2. Acumen Research and Consulting. Cardiac Arrhythmia Monitoring Devices Market Analysis - Global Industry Size, Share, Trends and Forecast 2022 - 2030. June 2022.