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Getting Patients More Involved with IoT-based Solutions

By Special Guest
Mark Denissen, President and CEO, Anelto
August 10, 2020

Living independently is so important to older adults, but their welfare and safety are also critical. Many seniors give up some or all of their independent lifestyles simply because they are afraid of falling, forget to take their medication occasionally, can’t get to the doctor as often as they need to, or because their families live far away and cannot check on them. Advances in IoT technology have led to remote patient monitoring (RPM) solutions that can help healthcare providers monitor patients while they remain home, transforming their patient care. RPM allows doctors and hospitals to easily and consistently monitor a patient’s vital statistics, including blood pressure, oxygen level, weight, temperature, and other factors that are key to understanding a patient’s health.

One of the keys to a successful RPM experience is consistent access to broadband connectivity. Wi-Fi has typically been a popular connectivity choice for IoT devices because of its relative ubiquity and high throughput. However, according to Pew Research Group, as of 2019, only 59 percent of people over 65 have access to broadband connectivity at home. That makes it challenging to utilize Wi-Fi in RPM solutions, which require a reliable 24x7 data connection. Wi-Fi often involves the use of passwords and other configuration steps, which some seniors may struggle with. And if Wi-Fi has a weak signal, loses power or goes offline for another reason—even if it’s infrequently—it hampers the ability to deliver consistent results back to healthcare professionals.

In many cases, a cellular connectivity option is the only consistent way to deliver results back to the healthcare provider. Cellular connectivity can provide:

  • Consistent, reliable availability
  • No user configuration required
  • The use of open standards and existing infrastructure
  • The ability to cover hundreds or even thousands of IoT devices simultaneously, ensuring connectivity is always available for the patient
  • Long battery life
  • End-to-end security

A key benefit of RPM using cellular is the robust real-time data set developed daily or even hourly that allows healthcare providers to see trends and take preventative action, solving small problems before they become big ones. Some solutions have two-way voice connectivity that enables care providers to regularly talk to patients and use automation to send various assessments through the device and use the information to alert the healthcare provider or the patient that action should be taken.

One example might be a patient with an unusually high blood pressure reading. In this scenario, the provider can contact the patient, ask a series of questions based on the patient’s disease—such as if they are feeling dizzy—and make decisions based on the answers. Solutions can also “learn” from the patient’s behavior, for example, if they do not take their medicine at the same time every day, reminders can be adjusted and sent at different times to establish a more consistent time that works better.

Another example is patients with chronic heart failure, which is the “poster child” for RPM. It’s important for patients to weigh themselves every day, and take their blood pressure and oxygen levels (pulse ox). Having this information at their fingertips allows doctors to intervene in a proactive or preventative way, eliminating visits to the doctor’s office or the emergency room when not warranted.

IoT solutions like RPM are finding new roles in healthcare. Many device manufacturers are looking at the benefits of cellular for their connectivity options and finding that it is a far better option than Wi-Fi for the senior population. And that means it’s easier, simpler, and safer than ever for seniors to get more involved with the healthcare and age in place.

About the author: Mark Denissen serves as the president and chief executive officer of Anelto. Denissen worked more than three decades with Texas Instruments (TI), serving in various roles before becoming the Vice President of Worldwide Strategic Marketing. In this role, he was responsible for the startup of businesses such as Medical Devices, LED lighting solutions, and motor control solutions.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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