At the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia this month, researchers and medical leaders touted the potential of digital tools to improve care for patients with heart failure.
Researchers are using a remote patient monitoring program to track heart patients and potentially intervene before they develop problems that can lead to more serious complications and longer, more expensive hospital stays. I emphasized that.
The researchers shared some insights into the development of Medly, a new digital company based in Canada. Medly’s smartphone-based remote patient management helps heart failure patients track important metrics such as blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels.
Heather Ross, chief of cardiology at the Peter Munk Heart Center in Toronto, spoke about the value of remote monitoring in Canada, where some patients have to fly for hours to get to the hospital.
“When we manage patients, we see them, we make appointments every three months, six months, and we see them at those appointments,” Ross said. “And the problem is that patients don’t get sick during those hours. They have their own schedules, and what we really need to do is change this paradigm from episodic to on-demand care. is.”
He pointed to several studies that found lower-than-expected adherence to remote patient monitoring was related to a lack of integration into physicians’ practices.
University of Toronto Associate Professor Emily Seto, co-inventor of Medly’s technology, spoke about the importance of thinking about workflow and making it easy for patients to follow remote patient monitoring programs.
“Good technology is necessary, but not sufficient,” Seto says.
Seto said patients generally find Medly’s technology easy to use. Patients say the app is simple and easy to use, especially after using it a few times.
“Sometimes we have technical issues. And of course, when that happens, it’s a terrible experience,” Seto said.
“But in reality, the study found some negative patient experiences that weren’t actually the fault of the technology,” she added. “It’s about program implementation. So, unfortunately, there are so many ways that deployment can go sideways.”
The researchers spoke about the importance of encouraging clinician buy-in and how clinicians present remote monitoring programs to patients.
“How the clinical team positions and presents the program is extremely important,” Seto says. “This really convinces patients and caregivers whether they want to try this program and whether they want to continue it, especially as we continue it for years and months. Sho.”
Patients participating in remote patient monitoring programs also need to be able to quickly contact a clinician if they have questions or concerns, Seto said. There could be problems with “timely response” to data and alerts, she said.
“If you don’t have this immediate feedback for your patients clinically, they lose trust,” Seto says.
Heart failure patients often have other chronic conditions. Seto said patients will receive remote monitoring from Medley once they are discharged from the hospital, and will be paired with a nurse who can provide comprehensive care to patients with other chronic conditions and direct additional care if needed. He said it would be.
When remote monitoring is effectively managed, patients can communicate more frequently and effectively with their doctors, and they also gain peace of mind.
“It brings peace of mind. And it reduces anxiety,” Seto said.
When implemented effectively, remote monitoring can reduce travel time for patients to see a doctor. This can be a serious problem for patients who require long journeys to their health care provider (which is common in some parts of Canada) or who have limited resources.
Mr. Ross discussed the importance of designing remote patient monitoring programs with underserved and disadvantaged communities in mind. “If we don’t do that, we’re going to see further inequities in health care,” Ross said.
“Health equity must be a clear goal,” Ross says.
Seto noted that several capital hurdles need to be overcome before Medly’s remote monitoring can be made available to more people. As she pointed out, the Medly app is currently only available in English and requires some level of literacy. Possible solutions may include speech recognition technology and translation capabilities.
But for now, Seto said, the solution is not accessible to those who could benefit from it.
“We’re talking about people who could potentially become homeless,” Seto said. “We’re talking about people who may have mental health issues or cognitive impairments.”
Ross said remote monitoring programs need to be carefully designed to address disparities and reduce the risk of widening them.
“There’s no one-size-fits-all approach,” Ross says. “It needs to be tailored to the community, the patient, and the health care system.”