Using Telemonitoring to Improve the Management of Patients with Chronic Diseases

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Using Telemonitoring to Improve the Management of Patients with Chronic Diseases

Chronic Disease

Many healthcare systems around the world are grappling with the spreading issue of managing chronic diseases. With the ever-increasing aging population and the severe shortage of healthcare professionals as well as medical resources, the healthcare system is currently facing strenuous times. Studies posit that by 2020, around 50% of the United States population will be affected by a chronic disease. Even though the projections seem overly grave, the underlying factors behind the projection reveal eminent danger as far as chronic conditions are concerned. For example, heart disease cases amount to 600,000 cases every year and there are approximately 595,000 cancer cases a year.

Consequently, there is a significant need to reorganize models of delivery of healthcare at the homecare setting. Among the significant transformations in the delivery of home care is the investment in advanced information and communication technology; a development which has led to the development of telehealth. Telemonitoring (TM) involves the transmission of biological and physiological data from patients to the healthcare professionals in an effort to enhance patient monitoring, interpretation of the transmitted data, and decision making at the clinical setting. Typically, such data includes vital symptoms and signs, compliance with administered medication, and activity level. The approach to health care involves combining various technologies such as the telephone, internet, and video conferencing to enable monitoring of patients at a distance.

Benefits of the Technology

Early Detection of Problems

TM can be applied to detect problems with patients early enough. Upon detection of problems, the system can create alerts that are sent to both the case manager and the patient. Subsequently, the system makes suggestions on the aspects and variables that should be adjusted in the therapeutic plan. The timely availability of data concerning the patient is an important indicator of the success of such technology. Following timely delivery of data, timely clinical decisions can also be made; a critical factor in saving lives.

Reduces Errors

Implementation of TM has the potential to reduce errors that occur at measurement stages as well as transmission stages. Through the use of technologies such as spirometers, blood glucose meters, and sphygmomanometers, it is easier and there are decreased chances of making errors in the transmission of electronic data. Improved accuracy is an important aspect of medical care.

Patient Education

Patient education is a vital aspect in the delivery of healthcare in the community. Automated monitoring has the potential to improve patient education and empower patients to take charge of their health. In the event that the patient requires more information, it is possible for the patient to contact case managers via phone or video conferencing. For example, scientific studies show that customized TM has the potential to educate patients on matters concerning chronic disease, how to take care of their health, and also ingrains a sense of self-efficacy.

Patients across the world seem to receive the approach well, as they are given the power to be actively involved in their care. Also, patients find that they have an improved sense of security and awareness; which eventually leads to a sense of empowerment. Part of the routine practice that comes with the use of the technology is the ability of medical personnel to offer counseling services to patients; which also leads to a reduction in anxiety in patients. An improvement in self-management is a strategy known to improve outcomes in patients with chronic disease.

Improvement in Quality of Healthcare

Health systems that institute home telehealth systems stimulate an improvement in the quality of healthcare delivered to patients. Research studies show that home TM systems lead to less congestion in emergency rooms, fewer home visits, reduced mortality rates, and fewer cases of hospitalization in regards to chronic illnesses. Additionally, telemedicine improves outcomes of patients with chronic diseases through a reduction in readmissions and an improvement in the quality of life.

Reduction in Costs

The contemporary healthcare system is famed for the exorbitant resources it consumes from government budgets. Even though a rational justification will never be reached explaining the high costs, various strategies can be applied to reduce such expenses. Telemonitoring is one such strategy capable of lowering such costs. Due to the improvement in the quality of healthcare, the technology leads to a decrease in the costs associated with the delivery of healthcare. The reduction in costs is due to decrease in the number of cases of hospitalization as well as emergency room visits. Further, the shorter hospital stays also led to a reduction in costs.

Improved Access to Healthcare

When the burden of care is shifted to the patient, it not only improves patient autonomy but also allows healthcare facilities to offer care to multiple patients simultaneously. Using such technology, healthcare professionals are able to provide specialist care to numerous patients scattered across a large geographical area. Traditional modes of healthcare delivery cannot match the level of access to healthcare that information technology accords to a population.

In conclusion, telemonitoring use in the care of patients with chronic diseases has been shown to improve outcomes through a reduction in readmission rates, decrease in hospitalization rates, enhanced patient education efforts, improved access to healthcare, and numerous other benefits. Therefore, it is vital for healthcare systems across the world to implement the technology because the ultimate goal of healthcare is to enhance patient satisfaction and improve the quality of care. In spite of the positive benefits associated with the system, there is a need for medical professionals to be vigilant on monitoring because there have been cases of decreased adherence to medical care witnessed in some patients.

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