Monitoring Devices Keep an Eye On Patient Health

heart_monitorEven in the most attentive hospitals, patients don’t have a doctor or nurse by their side 24/7. That’s where monitoring devices take over. Monitoring devices collect patient health data for use in clinical decision-making: alerting caregivers to adverse events, tracking changes in the patient’s condition, letting physicians and patients know whether a given treatment is working. Monitoring can be continuous or at set intervals. With monitoring devices, data is collected, transmitted and reviewed by the physician. Physicians can identify patterns or changes and modify treatment plans on a real-time basis as needed.  

Remote monitoring, in which a patient is monitored away from the hospital, is poised to make a particularly strong gain as the Baby Boomer population ages. Physicians may want to track patient health while still allowing the patient some measure of independence. Remote monitoring also has the potential to reduce healthcare costs associated with hospital visits. A 2009 study by ABI Research estimates that remote patient monitoring devices will generate $950 million in revenue by 2014.

Collecting patient data—and knowing how to use it—can help physicians make more informed clinical decisions. Some of the companies working in this space include the following:

HealthPAL by MedApps allows patients with chronic health conditions to automatically transmit data collected from monitoring devices to their electronic health record. The device is approved for use with glucose meters, blood pressure monitors, scales and pulse oximeters.
The Health Hero Network markets the HealthBuddy System for the remote monitoring of chronic conditions. The system offers automated data collection, a clinical information database, and Internet-enabled decision support tools. HealthBuddy can provide a variety of reports on patient compliance, trends, and more.

NewCare Medical is developing IntelliPod, a wireless handheld device for the measurement of vital signs. The patient can send the information to his or her medical record, doctor’s office, and the examination room.

German company Biotronik Biomedical recently announced the implantation of a cardiac device with remote monitoring capabilities. It is the first implantable cardiac device designed for the early detection and diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, a cardiac arrhythmia that can cause blood to pool in the atria. Physicians can monitor the device remotely and contact the patient as needed.

Untreated seizures in brain injury patients may cause brain damage and loss of neurological function. Optima Neuroscience provides clinical monitoring solutions for these patients. The company’s ClearView software is designed to detect and predict seizures in real time, allowing physicians to intervene for treatment if needed. Optima Neuroscience was spun out of the University of Florida.

Some monitoring devices, such as HealthPAL, can store the data in electronic medical records to build a more complete picture of the patient’s general health. The patient could be cross-referenced with other patients who have similar conditions, or with information provided by a clinical decision support system. With all the monitoring devices, mobile health applications, and diagnostic tests available on the market, the potential pool of data is almost limitless. The question now is: What will we do with the data?

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