Remote monitoring & virtual healthcare: patient considerations

    patientMpower is an experienced provider of remote monitoring solutions for a number of respiratory conditions including COPD, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and other interstitial lung diseases (ILD), lung transplant, cystic fibrosis (CF) and Asthma.

    The last 12 months has seen a surge in the integration of remote monitoring into virtual care pathways in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have worked with centres that have integrated remote monitoring into a variety of clinical pathways - including virtual consultations for chronic care, virtual pulmonary rehabilitation and early hospital discharge. For centres considering implementing remote monitoring, we wanted to share with you some insights from our experiences in working with providers who have already adopted these models. Here we focus on considerations around patients - perceptions, access and training needs.

    1. Virtual care is generally very well accepted by patients

    Many clinicians are surprised at how well virtual care is accepted by patients. Whilst the COVID pandemic has played a role in the rapid adoption of virtual pathways, patient feedback highlights many advantages of virtual care that will persist into the future.

    Advantages for patients

    • Patient convenience: Increased convenience covers many aspects - including avoiding travel (particularly important for rural patients or those without own transport), increased comfort (particularly for those with more advanced disease) and reduced waiting/travelling time (particularly important for those with working, studying or caring responsibilities).
    • Increases access to care: More than just convenience, virtual pathways enable some patients to receive care that would not have otherwise been accessible with traditional models (e.g. accessing weekly pulmonary rehab for rurally isolated patients).
    • Reduce exposure: Avoiding the risk of nosocomial infection (not just to COVID but to other sources of infection) is a significant advantage for vulnerable respiratory patient groups, and is perceived as a particular benefit for those with CF.
    • Increased reassurance: The integration of remote monitoring into virtual care pathways increases reassurance for patients. Clinical oversight of key parameters including spirometry and oxygen saturation is associated with greater reassurance than self-monitoring alone.
    • Empowers self-care: Virtual care + remote monitoring allows patients to play a more active role in their own care. Self monitoring, as opposed to passively receiving assessments at the clinic, typically increases patient engagement and is associated with improvements in patient well-being.

    2. Age is not a barrier to virtual care

    Whilst there is some relationship between age and digital literacy, this is not universal across all patients. Our experience is that the patientMpower platform, and virtual care models in general, are well accepted by patients regardless of age. In clinical trials the patientMpower platform has been used by patients in their 80s.

    3. Access to technology is a barrier to virtual care

    Device (smartphone, tablet, laptop) ownership and adequate internet access are barriers to virtual care. These issues are difficult to overcome, although we have witnessed sponsoring or funding for devices during the pandemic.  Digital literacy, or confidence in using technology, can be a barrier to access but one that it is easier to overcome than access issues. Those less confident with technology are motivated to engage in training or seek support if benefits of virtual care are understood and appreciated.

    4. Video versus telephone consultations are generally preferred by patients

    Where patients have access to the technology, video consultations or interventions are often preferred to telephone calls. As with any conversation, being able to see facial expressions or body language cues appears to be important to patients in their engagements with healthcare professionals.

    5. Patient training and support needs are minimal

    A short patient consultation (often with the nurse specialist, either at the point of discharge or via telehealth appointment) to address clinical usability questions around remote monitoring can be very helpful for patients. E.g. How often should I use my spirometer? What should I do if my reading doesn’t look normal? If clinic staffing and capacity is an issue patientMpower as a provider can deliver tailored patient implementation programmes if required. 

    patientMpower offers full technical support to both patients and clinicians. Connected devices are supplied with in-box instructions, with helpful videos and written instructions available online and additional support available via email, phone and chat (daily 8:30 am - 11:30 pm GMT).  In our experience only around 6 to 7% of patients require support with set up, and issues are quickly resolved. The median patientMpower app session length for patients is just 1.3 minutes, indicating ease of use and simplicity of navigation, and low burden on patients’ time. 

    About patientMpower

    patientMpower is an experienced provider of technology-driven healthcare solutions for a number of respiratory, kidney and heart conditions including COPD, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and other interstitial lung diseases (ILD), lung transplant, cystic fibrosis (CF), kidney transplant and heart failure.

    If you have any questions or would like to find out more about patientMpower contact us using the form below, or book in for a product demo with a member of our sales team at your convenience here (US time zones book here).