In today’s world, where we can do almost everything from home, the same should be true for monitoring and managing patient health. Enter remote patient monitoring (RPM).
Researchers expect this burgeoning market to reach $85 billion by the end of 2026, with hospitals and clinicians dominating the market share, followed by patients and consumers in home care settings.1
With a combination of predicted and unforeseen drivers accelerating the development, deployment, and adoption of RPM, including new 2022 Remote Therapeutic Monitoring (RTM) billing codes that enable reimbursement for RPM services, healthcare providers, health IT professionals, and systems integrators need a shared understanding of the sector’s growth factors, concerns, and use cases.
Growth Factors for RPM
Several factors are driving healthcare provider investments and government funding for RPM, supporting its CAGR of 23% through 2026.1 The most important reasons are rising healthcare costs, the aging geriatric population, and the increased prevalence of chronic diseases. Other drivers include labor shortages, tech interest from millennials, and increased use of telehealth during the pandemic.
With healthcare costs expected to keep rising due to population growth, population aging, and disease prevalence, among other reasons, the widespread implementation of RPM could be the antidote, reducing hospitalizations and subsequent healthcare expenditures for institutions and patients alike.
The aging baby boomer population is another driving factor of the growth. By 2050, approximately 16% of the U.S. population will be over 65 years old,1 vastly increasing the number of people living with chronic diseases. Combine that with ongoing workforce shortages, and technological innovation will become absolutely critical as healthcare providers struggle to deliver on the heightened demand for care.
The increased prevalence of chronic diseases will also support the widespread adoption of RPM, as already more than 133 million Americans, representing 45% of the U.S. population, have at least one chronic disease.2 Chronic conditions, such as Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Diabetes, Hypertension, and Asthma, are responsible for seven out of every 10 deaths.2
Common Concerns with RPM
With 88% of healthcare providers already invested or evaluating investments in RPM2—a shift further accelerated by the pandemic—the medical technology industry has already begun to detect and overcome core challenges related to fully integrating and operationalizing RPM tools and technologies.
Common concerns include data privacy and security, integration complexities and change management, and comfort and acceptance levels with technology and virtual care.
Unlike traditional medical devices that can be locked down in the event of a data breach, RPM comprises multiple systems—mobile devices, EHRs, cloud-based services, and virtual servers—making the tools more challenging to manage and protect. Software developers and systems integrators are looking at RPM as an opportunity to synchronize and secure the entire telehealth ecosystem, leveraging advanced data encryption methodologies, armored security protocols, and compliance with healthcare regulations, protocols, and the FDA standards.
Apprehensions with integration complexities and change management are justified as workflows for healthcare organizations have undergone many recent changes to comply with the EMR/EHR mandates. However, as technology continues to infiltrate all aspects of our lives, workflows of every sort will be overhauled. Fortunately for RPM, the benefits promise to outweigh any frustration with improved patient outcomes, lower hospital and healthcare costs, and reduced manual data entry and errors.
When it comes to comfortability with telehealth, a 2021 McKinsey & Company study indicates a strong uptake and favorable market perception. Approximately 40% of surveyed consumers believe they will use telehealth going forward—up from 11% of consumers using telehealth prior to COVID-19. On the provider side, 58% of physicians view telehealth more favorably now than before COVID-19.
Respiratory Conditions and RPM
Patients with chronic conditions will experience significant benefits from RPM. Currently, chronic conditions impact a substantial portion of the U.S. population, with respiratory conditions making up a large fraction of them. Respiratory conditions, like COPD and Asthma, are diseases of the airways and lungs that are monitored and diagnosed through auscultation. However, auscultation is “a highly subjective process and depends on the physician’s ability to interpret the sounds as determined by his/her psychoacoustical characteristics,”3 whereas digital RPM stethoscopes offer 95% accuracy.
With the adoption of digital stethoscopes on the rise, RPM as a concept is proving effective for managing respiratory conditions, allowing for consistent and continuous measurement of physiologic data, insight, and communication. RPM for COPD, for example, can help patients with symptomatic management. By equipping patients with portable and easy-to-use devices, such as a digital stethoscope or pulse oximetry-based RPM solution, patients and healthcare providers can proactively detect abnormalities and manage treatment plans, reducing hospitalizations and costly treatments.
For patients with chronic respiratory conditions, RPM tools will allow for:
- Real-time symptom management
- Treatment efficacy and impact monitoring
- Improved screening and workflows
- Reduced visits and hospitalizations
- Patient engagement and empowerment
Comment from Ellington West, CEO and Co-Founder, “Remote patient monitoring has the potential to bridge the gaps that have existed in healthcare. Over the years, American healthcare costs have continued to rise without the improvement in outcomes that one would expect, and now that technology is more affordable, it is up to payers and healthcare systems to make them accessible to all patients and support healthcare workers in adopting new practices. COVID-19 changed everything. A new era of healthcare delivery is here to provide better care to everyone, everywhere.”
What to Expect from RPM
With a host of factors accelerating the need and adoption of tech-enabled care, it is safe to surmise that RPM is not just on the rise, but a game-changer that’s here to stay. The floodgates are open for this billion-dollar market, and there is a plethora of use cases and applications for RPM to enhance clinical outcomes, including the development of novel therapeutics as well as monitoring the efficacy of individualized patient treatment plans. In addition to reducing unnecessary hospital admissions and improving the quality of communication between patients and providers, RPM solutions, like those being developed by Sonavi Labs, will dramatically change the way healthcare is delivered.
Telehealth and medical technology startups are a big part of the RPM answer, developing state-of-the-art solutions projected to first surge in North America and the Asia-Pacific.1 Sonavi Labs is one of the MedTech industry’s top venture-backed startups focused on helping patients with respiratory diseases through acoustic technology and AI software for its FDA-approved digital stethoscope, Feelix.
As the U.S. faces rising healthcare costs, the aging baby boomer population, and the increased prevalence of chronic diseases, RPM promises a ready and welcome solution for all stakeholders.