6 hospital execs share what excites them most about remote monitoring

Hospitals' use of remote patient monitoring has exploded during the pandemic, and many providers are exploring ways to further leverage the technology. Here, innovation executives from six health systems describe why they're excited about the future of remote monitoring.

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and style.

Karen Murphy, PhD, RN. Chief Innovation Officer at Geisinger (Danville, Pa.): Remote monitoring technology offers tremendous potential to improve outcomes in patients with chronic diseases such as heart failure and hypertension. The ability to monitor patients in their homes provides real-time information that allows for rapid intervention, such as medication changes. During COVID-19, we saw firsthand the benefits of leveraging remote monitoring. Many patients were able to recover in their homes using remote monitoring. As we move toward a "hospital-at-home" model, remote monitoring will be essential.

Daniel Durand, MD. Chief Clinical Officer at LifeBridge Health (Baltimore): What excites me the most about remote monitoring technology is the opportunity to study the 99 percent of human life lived outside the hospital. After all, the 1 percent of one's life lived within a hospital is only tolerable because it can improve or prolong the other 99 percent lived in the richness of the world. The relevance of this is just dawning on us, because digital health and distributed healthcare are still in their infancy and largely still shackled to the sick-care model. Many of these remote monitoring companies are pitching their value proposition in terms of avoiding, improving and/or optimizing hospital stays, which is helpful but not paradigm-shifting.  

I personally want to see what happens when these technologies are used to truly optimize the human healthspan in novel tech-enabled ways. This is beginning to happen with some digital health companies that are transforming diabetes care to the point where patients are reportedly in "remission." But the potential impact here is on all human beings and not just Type 2 diabetics. I see a future where anyone who wants their wearable and other data monitored will have access to real-time analytics, AI-driven insights, on-demand health coaching, fitness and dietary advice, etc. A future where we can all become masters of our own biology, if we so choose. 

Richard Zane, MD. Chief Innovation Officer at UCHealth (Aurora, Colo.): The promise of remote patient monitoring is compelling. By being able to integrate devices — such as the Apple Watch or BioSticker — and prescriptive intelligence into workflows, we have the opportunity to completely blur the lines between not only virtual, home, and traditional brick-and-mortar care, but also synchronous and asynchronous communication. This will allow healthcare to recognize illness before it is symptomatic and intervene before a patient deteriorates and needs acute unscheduled care. Remote patient monitoring will also allow us to treat patients in their homes, nursing facilities and hotel rooms to avoid hospitalization. Now we just need the regulators to catch up.

Tom Andriola. Vice Chancellor of IT and Data at University of California Irvine and UCI Health: First, the maturity of remote monitoring technologies is allowing healthcare organizations to greatly diversify where they can deliver care, and we're seeing significant, fast-paced innovation to rethink the care setting around these capabilities. Second, we see the signals captured becoming of higher quality — a convergence of consumer-based devices getting better but also traditional hospital-based device companies refactoring their offerings to address a growing home-based care paradigm. These two points, combined with the existence of pervasive connectivity and computing, make for an exciting reformation of what we could envision for patient experience, care, recovery and health maintenance. 

A few examples: How will these models impact patient populations in underserved communities establishing new possibilities around dimensions of access, outcomes and cost? Could we foresee the future for accountable care organizations where we move the focus to "value of care to the patient" and not solely on managing the cost of care? What will be the future different paradigm for how we think about managing health and longevity in older populations? How can we think about these technologies supporting a combination of active and passive monitoring for data capture and analysis?

Omkar Kulkarni. Chief Innovation Officer at Children's Hospital Los Angeles: Home-based remote patient monitoring technologies have historically been less frequently adopted in pediatric care delivery models than in adult populations. Through the work of CHLA's KidsX and West Coast Consortium for Technology & Innovation in Pediatrics Accelerator programs (the former focused on pediatric digital health solutions and the latter on novel pediatric medical devices), we are working with an increasing number of promising startups that are bringing to market technologies purpose-built for pediatric remote monitoring. 

In addition, an increasing number of payers, both public and private, are starting to reimburse for remote monitoring for pediatrics. Given the rapid increase in adoption of virtual care during the past two years, I am enthusiastic that the future is ripe for the development of innovative care models that bridge telehealth and remote monitoring to enable families to safely and effectively care for their children from home. In addition, I'm excited about the use of digital tools that enable patient-reported outcomes; this type of home-based remote monitoring is especially valuable for patient families with behavioral health needs.

Jonathan Griffin, MD. Chief Medical Innovation Officer at St. Peter's Health (Helena, Mont.): Remote patient monitoring opens many windows of possibility, but what excites me most is the potential to achieve higher levels of patient awareness and engagement with tech and data. If remote monitoring can help people take better care of their own health and well being in their daily lives, that's the biggest win in my mind.

Remote monitoring is a proactive approach enabling meaningful healthcare to happen within the comfort of home. Healthcare staffing shortages highlight the need for remote monitoring as an enabling technology to actively shift care away from facility settings to the home.

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