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Remote Monitoring Tools: The New Age of Preventative Healthcare
In healthcare, remote monitoring tools are primarily deployed to patients for purposes of collecting and forwarding observations to the medical expert to ensure changes are implemented in the patient’s healthcare status. Essentially, the healthcare field is increasingly using remote patient monitoring in observing those suffering from pre-existing conditions like cancer with the aim of managing costs and improving medical outcomes. However, the use of remote patient monitoring tools has been found to poses numerous challenges that affect the efficiency of service delivery to the patient. Disadvantages of remote monitoring include inaccessibility to some patients, privacy concerns, and issues with the quality of the healthcare information. While remote patient monitoring is not readily available to all care providers, it also affects the relationship between the provider and the patient.
There is a widespread problem with the security and privacy of the remote monitoring tools. While patient privacy is covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the act fails to secure the increasing volume of patient data that is generated through health consumer devices and apps. The health privacy laws do not cover most of the services, which gather and aggregate healthcare data from numerous sources. Essentially, the manner in which the remote monitoring tools collect and use patient data is managed by the internal privacy policies of the individual companies. It follows that the health professionals have no control over the security of health data in the devices and apps. According to Dickinson et al. (2018), Mobile Health apps have numerous weaknesses that can lead to unauthorized or accidental loss of patient information and unlawful exposure. Therefore, patients can lose their personal information through health apps used in remote monitoring.
Additionally, remote monitoring tools have sometimes been ineffective. In most cases, apps suffer technical failures that can delay the process of service delivery and endanger the life of the patient. In addition, these tools including health apps and devices have not been able to effectively collect, record, and relay accurate information to the health professional. Malasinghe, Ramzan and Dahal (2019) hold that the heart and blood disease linked monitoring systems have experienced difficulties in conveying precise signals from the body of the patient. Contact-related techniques apply traditional procedures such as the ECG. On the other hand, photoplethysmographic systems use the light on the smaller veins that are comparatively closer to the skin surface (Malasinghe, Ramzan and Dahal, 2019). While the two methods have proven to be useful, identifying the problems of the respiratory system as well as breathing difficulties and abnormalities often pose an increasing challenge to the monitoring systems, which primarily entail detection for the breathing sound. Thus, it is challenging to differentiate the numerous sounds produced in the upper part of the body.
Additionally, many patients cannot access the remote monitoring tools, especially those from rural regions. Despite increased internet connectivity, some patients still lack the required remote monitoring tools that can fasten the speed of service delivery and care as well as ensure that determinations regarding the patient’s health are done in real time. Lack of access to remote monitoring tools including smart devices continues to expose the lives of patients suffering from chronic conditions to danger. Patients have to travel for long hours to seek routine care. In essence, patients from low-income families cannot afford smart devices. Such patients risk losing their lives because health professionals find it hard to persist long distances to attend to the patients. In such a case, health professionals are forced to work with family members to assist in routine checks.
Remote patient monitoring also has concerns with the quality of health information collected. As Dickinson et al. (2018) report, the quality of health information is compromised due to the lack of centralized oversight of the health apps and devices. Further, Patients seeking information concerning a particular condition are usually misled through inaccurate, biased, misleading as well as confusing content. For instance, illiterate patients experience difficulties in choosing credible information from peer-reviewed articles that are available in the biomedical journals. Credible online medical information must often entail relevant, useful, and evidence-based data. Facilities should ensure production of accurate medical data, which are aimed at the overall public or patients. Moreover, healthcare professionals are also affected by the wealth of information available on the internet (O’Connell, 2015). Specifically, the bulging quantity of health information has made it hard for health professionals to cope with the advancing changes. Hacking into the health apps can also subject the patient data to manipulation, which can affect the general quality. Manipulated or inaccurate patient data often affect changes in medication or accuracy of the care process.
The remote monitoring tools are also not available to all healthcare providers. Lack of the tools and systems among some providers hinder the remote monitoring process (Vegesna, Tran, Angelaccio, & Arcona, 2017). Such cases are mainly common in rural areas, where there are limited internet connectivity and access to information. In such a scenario, the patients are forced to travel long distances to acquire routine medical checkups. Again, patients suffering from chronic conditions are more disadvantaged due to the urgency and critical nature of their care. Therefore, the lack of monitoring tools among various care providers has hindered the application and use of remote patient monitoring.
The use of remote monitoring tools in the healthcare field has numerous disadvantages to both the patients and care providers. Health apps and devices are subject to infiltration and manipulation by hackers, which often lead to loss and exposure of patient information. Additionally, the remote monitoring systems have sometimes been ineffective as they mostly fail to relay accurate signals, especially for patients suffering from heart and blood-related infections. While many patients, particularly from rural areas have problems in accessing the remote monitoring tools, the quality of health information collected is also a concern. Lastly, some healthcare providers cannot access such devices and tools, thereby making the application of remote patient monitoring hard.
- Dickinson, M. G., Allen, L. A., Albert, N. A., DiSalvo, T., Ewald, G. A., Vest, A. R.,… & Givertz, M. M. (2018). Remote Monitoring of Patients with Heart Failure: A White Paper from the Heart Failure Society of America Scientific Statements Committee. Journal of cardiac failure, 24(10), 682-694. doi: 10.1016/j.cardfail.2018.08.011
- Malasinghe, L. P., Ramzan, N., & Dahal, K. (2019). Remote patient monitoring: a comprehensive study. Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Humanized Computing, 10(1), 57-76. doi: 10.1007/s12652-017-0598-x
- O’Connell, P. (2015). Advantages and Challenges to using Telehealth Medicine. Global Journal of Medical Research, 15(4), 19-22.
- Vegesna, A., Tran, M., Angelaccio, M., & Arcona, S. (2017). Remote patient monitoring via non-invasive digital technologies: a systematic review. Telemedicine and e-Health, 23(1), 3-17. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2016.0051
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