From reduced healthcare costs to improved patient outcomes, the benefits of remote patient monitoring (RPM) are well documented. So, it’s no wonder that our healthcare system is moving toward RPM as the standard of care in many areas.
However, keeping up with the increasing demands for RPM and expanding this approach into more aspects of the healthcare world will require advancements in sensor technology. A number of MedTech startups have already begun pushing the capabilities and features of non-invasive and wearable sensors in a bid to expand the RPM market.
In this article, we take a look at the benefits of sensors in remote patient monitoring and at some real-life examples of innovative sensors redefining this field. Finally, we look to the future of RPM and discuss what MedTech companies should be focusing on in order to find success with their sensors.
Benefits of Using Sensors in RPM
Remote patient monitoring has allowed millions access to healthcare that was previously unaffordable or unattainable due to location or service availability. Across the healthcare industry, RPM helps reduce patient and hospital costs, reducing the healthcare burden in the US and beyond.
RPM, on its own, provides numerous benefits. But it’s the use of sensor technology that powers RPM and makes it possible for this approach to improve patient outcomes and reduce disease burden beyond traditional care options.
Using sensors in RPM has revolutionized the healthcare industry by providing real-time data to care teams while patients recover in their own homes or continue their normal lives outside of the hospital. Some of the most notable advantages of using sensors in RPM include:
- Continuous Monitoring. Sensors allow for continuous and real-time monitoring of vital signs and other disease markers, enabling healthcare providers to detect any abnormalities or changes promptly.
- Early Detection of Health Issues. With continuous monitoring, sensors can detect early signs of health issues, allowing healthcare professionals to intervene before a condition worsens.
- Improved Patient Safety. Remote patient monitoring with sensors helps enhance patient safety by providing alerts in case of emergencies or critical changes in the patient’s health status, ensuring timely medical interventions.
- Convenience and Comfort. Patients can enjoy the convenience and comfort of staying at home while being monitored. This reduces the need for frequent hospital visits and lengthy stays, thus improving their overall quality of life while freeing up vital space in healthcare facilities.
- Cost-Effectiveness. Remote patient monitoring with sensors can be cost-effective, as it reduces the need for frequent hospital visits and can prevent expensive complications and emergency interventions by detecting issues early.
- Enhanced Data Collection and Analysis. Sensor data can be collected and analyzed in large quantities, providing valuable insights into patient health trends and patterns over time. This data can help healthcare providers make more informed decisions and create personalized treatment plans for individual patients while informing population health management efforts.
- Promotion of Patient Engagement and Compliance. Patients become more engaged in their own health management as they actively participate in monitoring their health data. This engagement can lead to improved patient compliance with treatment plans and lifestyle changes.
- Support for Chronic Disease Management. Remote patient monitoring through sensors is especially beneficial for managing chronic diseases. It allows for continuous tracking of health parameters, enabling early intervention and better disease management.
- Remote Accessibility for Healthcare Providers. Healthcare providers can access patient data remotely, enabling them to monitor multiple patients simultaneously and provide timely interventions as needed, even from a distance.
- Reduction in Healthcare Burden. By preventing complications and reducing hospital admissions, RPM with sensors can help alleviate the burden on healthcare facilities and resources, allowing them to focus on more critical cases.
MedTech Startups are Redefining RPM with Advanced Sensors
In order to expand the benefits of sensors in RPM, many MedTech companies and startups are creating innovative sensors capable of remotely monitoring a new generation of health statistics. Below is just a small sampling of sensors currently in development or new to the market.
In 2018, BioIntelliSense began work on a single-use vitals monitoring patch called the BioButton. This multi-sensor adhesive patch sits over the heart on the left side of the chest. Here, it gathers multiple health parameters, including skin temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, gait, body position, and more.
The sensor wirelessly transfers this data via Bluetooth to the connected application. Within the app, patients and healthcare providers can configure customizable modes and set personalized notifications.
Endotronix Implantable Pulmonary Artery Pressure Sensor
Endotronix already boasts a long list of connected vitals monitoring devices as part of their Cordella system. Now they are preparing to add an innovative implantable sensor to their toolset.
Their implantable pulmonary artery pressure sensor remotely monitors cardiac pressure in patients living with heart failure. The daily readings help care teams intervene before symptoms and complications begin while providing valuable data to encourage patients to make lifestyle and medication changes before problems arise.
DentalMonitoring ScanBox and AI App
DentalMonitoring uses a simple smartphone mount and intuitive mobile application to scan the dental field and provide real-time analysis using AI-based software. The app sends information from each scan to the patient’s dentist or orthodontist with recommendations based on customized parameters.
The smartphone app helps reduce unnecessary dentist trips by only recommending visits when the scans show a need for intervention or a change in treatment. Like other sensor solutions, this one also helps encourage patient engagement and compliance by sharing data about their progress.
Athelas Home Connected Blood Diagnostics Device
Athelas provides effective software solutions for telehealth. Recently, they launched Athelas Home, a blood diagnostics device that reads neutrophil and white blood cell levels from just a couple of drops of blood. The results are transferred via the Internet to over 25 compatible EHRs.
Athelas Home was developed to help patients on Clozapine or chemotherapy and those suffering from leukemia or neutropenia track their blood counts from the comfort of their home. Real-time results allow doctors to make treatment decisions without the need for invasive blood draws or expensive hospital visits.
Oxehealth Oxevision Camera-Based Vitals Monitor
Oxehealth’s Oxivision is an infrared-based camera system that non-invasively tracks heart rate and breathing rate without the need for wearable or implanted sensors. The system was developed for use on patients with mental health concerns. It allows doctors to track basic vitals without disturbing the patient or having to use instruments that might be targeted by non-compliant patients.
Oxevision also has applications in infant care, prisons, and other situations where an extra level of patient/care team separation is necessary.
The Future of Sensors In Remote Patient Monitoring
If the above examples tell us anything, it’s that the field of sensor development for RPM has no limits. There are thousands of health conditions that could be improved through the use of these types of sensors and the benefits of RPM. This combined with the rapid advancement of sensor technology allows for endless opportunities for MedTech companies in this market.
To stay ahead in the ever-evolving landscape of remote patient monitoring, sensor and SaMD software developers need to ensure they focus on the crucial aspects of future sensor development.
Miniaturization and Wearable Technology
User preference is driving the miniaturization of sensor tech. Building smaller sensor technologies makes them more discreet and comfortable for patients to wear. Incorporating these mini sensors into wearable devices, such as smartwatches, fitness bands, and smart clothing, can enhance patient compliance and enable continuous, unobtrusive monitoring.
Multimodal Sensor Integration
Integrating multiple sensors into a single device to capture various health parameters simultaneously can provide a comprehensive view of a patient’s health status. As sensor-enabled tech becomes more commonplace in the medical and consumer fields, creating multi-sensor devices will be necessary to avoid overloading users with separate devices and apps.
Medtech companies should explore the integration of different sensor modalities, such as optical, acoustic, and biochemical sensors, to capture a broader range of health data and help their product stand out.
Real-Time Health Feedback and Alerts
Developing sensors that can provide real-time feedback and alerts to patients and healthcare providers can significantly improve patient safety and enable timely interventions. Implementing advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques can enable sensors to detect and respond to critical health events promptly. These notification features should be customizable and user-friendly without compromising safety.
Personalized Medicine and Treatment Optimization
MedTech companies should focus on developing sensor technologies that can facilitate personalized medicine and treatment optimization. Integrating sensors with AI-driven analytics can enable the customization of treatment plans based on individual patient data, leading to more effective and tailored healthcare interventions.
Remote Diagnostic Capabilities
Advancing sensor technologies to enable remote diagnostic capabilities can revolutionize the way healthcare is delivered. Companies should focus on developing sensors that can not only monitor health parameters but also perform diagnostic functions remotely, enabling early disease detection and intervention without the need for in-person medical visits.
Long-Term Data Storage and Analysis
Ensuring the long-term storage and analysis of patient data is crucial for gaining insights into long-term health trends and enabling predictive analytics. MedTech companies should invest in developing secure and scalable data storage solutions, or partner with applicable cloud-based storage companies, that can handle large volumes of sensor data over extended periods, facilitating retrospective analysis and research.
Biocompatibility and Implantable Sensors
Non-invasive sensors and wearables will always be the preferred application for the consumer market as well as for many short-term medical conditions and treatments. But for certain patient populations, such as those with chronic conditions, developing biocompatible and implantable sensors offers more benefits, including continuous and seamless monitoring.
MedTech companies looking to create solutions within the chronic disease field should prioritize the development of implantable sensor technologies that can provide long-term, accurate monitoring without causing adverse reactions or complications.
Energy Harvesting and Self-Powered Sensors
Exploring energy harvesting technologies to power sensors can enhance their sustainability and reduce reliance on external power sources. MedTech companies should focus on developing self-powered sensors that can harvest energy from the surrounding environment or the human body, enabling long-term monitoring without the need for frequent battery replacements or recharging.
Predictive Analytics and Early Intervention Algorithms
Implementing predictive analytics and early intervention algorithms based on sensor data can enable the early detection of health deterioration and the proactive management of patient conditions. Developers should invest in building sophisticated algorithms that can analyze sensor data in real-time and provide predictive insights to healthcare providers and patients.
Innovative Sensors are the Future of RPM
The benefits of remote patient monitoring are only becoming more apparent as this approach to healthcare becomes more commonplace. Innovative sensor technologies paired with connected devices and wearables are powering the advancement of RPM across the healthcare world. The boundless capabilities of sensors in RPM are no more obvious than when looking at the newest devices hitting the market from startups across the globe.
To stand out in this rapidly growing market, MedTech companies need to embrace current trends that are certain to play a large role in the future of sensor technology. By adopting AI integration, cloud storage, personalized medicine, and other aspects into their product, MedTech companies can contribute to the advancement of remote patient monitoring technologies, ultimately improving patient outcomes, enhancing healthcare delivery, and shaping the future of the healthcare industry.