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FeibusTech: market insight & analysis. Influencer, analyst in IoT, digital health/fitness, wearables, connected car, smart home, privacy/security. Columnist for Tech section of USA TODAY and Fortune.

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RemotePatientMonitoring: It's On

by Julie McClure

It’s happening.  After years of testing and development, remote patient monitoring (RPM) systems and technologies finally are proliferating – and already are succeeding.  Indeed, RPM is having a positive impact on patient health, improving antiquated healthcare systems and extending healthcare providers’ coverage into remote locations, financially strapped neighborhoods and other under-served areas.

The biggest factor in RPM is the ability to collect real-time patient data safely and securely.  These data points consist of vital signs, physical activity levels, sensor data or chemistry data.  Real-time continuous data is superior to less frequent snapshot data because it can alert a clinician or care provider to worsening levels before the situation becomes severe.

This data is transmitted to health professionals in facilities such as monitoring centers in primary care settings, hospitals and intensive care units, skilled nursing facilities, and centralized off-site case management programs.  Health professionals monitor these patients remotely and act on the information received as part of the treatment plan. Monitoring programs can also help keep people healthy, allow older and disabled individuals to live at home longer and avoid having to move into skilled nursing facilities. RPM can also serve to reduce the number of hospitalizations, readmissions, and lengths of stay in hospitals—all of which help improve quality of life and contain costs.

Here are four companies that are changing the RPM landscape. Each brings different technologies and expertise toward accomplishing the goal of RPM.

Transforming diabetes care
Technology and medical devices are becoming affordable and easy to use, which is leading healthcare companies to target type 2 diabetes patients with connected devices.

Medtronic and Qualcomm just announced they are partnering to design and build next-generation continuous glucose monitors, or CGMs. A CGM pairs a monitoring patch with a device that constantly records blood sugar levels, giving diabetics and their caregivers much finer control over their condition.

By giving insights to doctors and people with type 2 diabetes concerning glucose levels, the companies intend to enable more informed care, especially for those who do not have control of their diabetes today. The collaboration seeks to leverage Medtronic's market-leadership in diabetes management and Qualcomm Life's expertise in designing for wireless integrated modules to create more affordable, easier-to-use CGM systems, including a new sensor and smaller design that can provide near real-time and retrospective glucose data.

The initial focus of the collaboration will be to develop a single-use CGM system designed for broader use by general practitioners who manage care for the vast majority of the 400 million people worldwide with type 2 diabetes. This collaboration supports Medtronic's strategy to develop comprehensive CGM solutions that not only measure glucose but enable the delivery of actionable insights to both patients and providers.

Leveraging Qualcomm Life's deep wireless expertise and broad technology portfolio, 2net(TM) is a platform for designing the communications components of connected medical devices, including disposable drug delivery devices and disposable diagnostic devices for condition-specific connected therapies.

Advancing Remote Care - Monitoring Infants with Congenital Heart Disease at Home
Vivify Health, a company that helps keep patients engaged and provides a link between RPM and on-site monitoring, just announced a relationship with Children’s of Alabama, one of the largest pediatric healthcare facilities in the United States.  The hospital is equipping caregivers and parents of infants born with heart defects with a completely managed remote care and monitoring kit from Vivify, extending the reach of the hospital into the infant's home.

The digital kit includes a tablet with an unlimited data plan that enables parents to track and report their baby's weight, pulse and oxygen saturation, and to have immediate, reliable communication with caregivers, even if English is not their first language. In turn, caregivers can track and monitor infants with congenital heart disease who are enrolled in Children's of Alabama's "Hearts at Home" program during their most vulnerable stages of recovery, post-surgery, and quickly intervene when conditions change.

Vivify replaces paper-based and sometimes spotty parental reporting of the baby's biometric data and growth at home with an electronic solution. Vivify makes it easy to upload the baby's daily vital signs, and the Vivify solution also includes video conferencing and a complete library of how-to tutorials regarding medication and nutrition and other elements of caring for babies with a complex heart condition. As long as parents have the tablet, they can get in touch with their baby's care team – no matter what.  The unlimited data plan is provided independent of household income.

Devices and Virtual Exam Rooms – Transforming medical care
Dictum Health offers a Virtual Exam Room that replicates a clinical examination room, private and up close, using the same medical equipment used in on-site care. Virtual visits are facilitated by the light-weight, FDA-cleared, IDM100 videoconferencing system which provides real-time data streaming through Dictum Health's Care Central software. Data are transmitted between laptops or tablets through a cloud-based, cyber-secure, HIPAA-compliant system.
Dictum Health products are transforming remote medical care with the IDM100, which offers real-time reporting of complete vital signs and cardiopulmonary data. Dictum Health products feature an unprecedented level of integration with diagnostic medical devices and software applications that bring physicians and remote patients together without sacrificing personalized care.

Adaptable Digital Health Platform – Connecting Your Data to Your Doctor
Validic is the healthcare industry’s premier technology platform for convenient, easy access to digital health data from best-in-class clinical and remote-monitoring devices, sensors, fitness equipment, wearables and patient wellness applications. Their platform is cloud-based and facilitates the fluid and secure transfer of health information from many sources to healthcare providers everywhere.  Validic continues to deliver on its promise of connecting healthcare and has become an industry leader in this space. Validic now has a patient population reach of over 223 million across 47 countries.

Building a Solid Foundation  
Remote patient monitoring has the potential to dramatically improve healthcare – and also extend care to more people – and the four companies covered here are providing different pieces of the foundation for that.

Technology from Qualcomm Life ensures that remote data gets to where it needs to go reliably and safely. Vivify has a great platform to keep patients engaged in their care – both at healthcare facilities and after they return home. Dictum Health’s portable examination room helps caregivers reach under-served areas virtually. And Validic’s flexible cloud-based platform can integrate data from myriad devices and apps into healthcare professionals’ diagnostic quiver.

And as a group, they all contribute to the RPM ideal of keeping us healthier by arming providers with insight about our conditions that they haven’t had before. Now, finally, healthcare professionals are seeing first-hand what a profound difference in outcomes that can make.