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The Evolution of Remote Patient Care

By Paul Fitzgerald for America's Backbone Weekly

Breakthroughs in remote sensing and IoT (Internet of Things) technologies are making it easier for healthcare professionals to monitor and treat patients from a distance. Smart devices, such as wearable heart monitors and pill dispensers, are also helping patients manage their own treatment programs, giving them a greater range of independence. While this is of benefit to all patients, it is especially helpful to patients who live in remote areas. Here are some remarkable new technologies and devices that are reshaping the healthcare industry.

Game-changing wearable devices

The success of mobile health monitoring is due to remarkable breakthroughs in remote sensing technologies. Remote sensors are the key to the emergence of wearable medical devices that provide doctors and other healthcare professionals with vital patient data. For example, Bioflux is a wearable ECG tracker from Biotricity. It monitors and sends ECG data to labs in real time. It's ideal for getting complete readings over a set period of time for any patient, but also allows patients who live far from medical centers to get the kind of monitoring that once required a day or two at the clinic. According to Statista, the remote cardiac monitoring market was worth $686 million in 2011, and it's projected to grow to $867 million by the end of this year. But cardiology isn't the only area that's benefiting from wearable tech.

According to Soreon Research, the global market for wearable healthcare is expected to grow to $41 billion worldwide in 2020. This is due to products like ADAMM, from Upstate New York company, Health Care Originals. ADAMM is a wearable patch that is worn on the upper torso and provides asthma symptom detection and notification during times when your symptoms exceed their norms. It also tracks and monitors inhaler use so you don't have to worry about missing a dose. Voice journaling is also available: by simply pressing the wearable you can record journal entries on anything relevant to your symptoms, and the data is saved in your patient record. This device allows asthma patients to manage and control their disease without constant trips to the doctor.

Even run-of-the-mill smartwatches are being used to help people stay healthy. Samsung's watches now include heart rate sensors that can be helpful to patients who need to keep an eye on their heart rates, and the company hopes to include glucose monitoring in the future. This, along with general fitness apps can help ensure that patients are following the exercise regimens prescribed by their doctors.


Smart pill dispensers

In addition to wearable devices, smart medication dispensers are now appearing on the market which are helping patients stay independent. With chronic conditions like heart disease, patients are often required to take complex arrays of medication. Managing doses can be challenging for the best of us, but it can be especially challenging for older patients or those experiencing dementia. Smart pill dispensers, such as those from MedMinder, help doctors and patients manage medication regimens by dispensing medication at designated intervals and by providing reminders. MedMinder pill dispensers not only blink and make noise when it's time to take your pills: their cellular connectivity allows them to send reminders by phone. Should patients fail to respond to the MedMinder alerts, a phone, text or email message will then be sent to the patient's doctor or other healthcare providers. MedMinder pill boxes are available on a monthly rental basis. There are four models to choose from with a different range of features, and prices range from $39.99 to $64.99 per month.

Conclusion

Remote healthcare technologies are helping to overcome some of the challenges faced by healthcare providers in America. They're particularly beneficial to patients who live far away from medical centers. Wearable heart monitors and smart pill dispensers are examples of technologies that remove the need for human nurses, doctors and lab technicians that would otherwise be needed onsite to monitor patients and ensure compliance to treatment regimens.


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