The evolution of technology within healthcare has not only helped improve the health of patients through innovative treatments but has also contributed to the shift in the dynamics of the doctor-patient relationship. Significant breakthroughs in the acquisition of data, research, and treatments have given medical providers and doctors more effective tools, additional ways to treat their patients, and new information with which they can practice medicine and provide precise treatments.
How is technology transforming cardiac care?
The world of cardiology has transformed over the past decade with new treatments and improved patient outcomes. With digital technology bringing developments in the healthcare sector, doctors can monitor their patients even remotely, thus ensuring more personalized care. Some routine check-ups that previously required patients to visit hospitals in-person are now being resolved in a timely manner without the need for lengthy commutes and tiresome processes, resulting in an overall improved experience for both the patient and healthcare provider. A prime example is the development of remote monitoring technologies in implantable cardiac devices.
From diagnosis, monitoring and managing heart rhythm issues to recoding data on even the minutest changes, new remote monitoring devices are much more precise and accurate. With the data from these connected devices, doctors can initiate video consultations with patients while drawing up additional information from their daily records, streamlining the entire process. Remote care technology has enhanced existing treatments by facilitating greater communication and delivery of care to patients.
It is important to understand that this technology is not replacing doctors, it is augmenting the relationship between patients and their treating physicians, while at the same time equipping them with more information and better options for treatment, especially in the cardiac rhythm management sector.
Remote patient monitoring – a growing trend in cardiac care
Generally, once a patient with a device implant such as a pacemaker is discharged from the hospital, he/she needs to visit their doctor frequently for at least the next three months. The frequency of visits can later be decreased to every six months or as per an individual patient’s requirement. While these implantable devices continuously monitor for abnormal heart rhythms and transmit data to a patient’s doctors, the integrated app also allows patients to track symptoms proactively, sync their data with the clinic, and view their history without having to contact the clinic to confirm successful data transfers.
Remote heart monitoring is an effective and accurate tool for monitoring the heart health of patients with abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias) and heart failure. The information from the device allows the doctor to review the patient’s device parameters and performance remotely. These devices offer opportunities for patient engagement and remote monitoring through smartphone connectivity and connected applications such as Bluetooth.
In 2020, Abbott commissioned the HEART MATTERS study in the US, surveying cardiologists and other specialists to gain a better understanding of what their concerns were for patients with cardiovascular conditions such as heart failure. Given the current scenario, the survey showed that 79 percent of cardiologists are interested in further incorporating the use of remote monitoring devices amongst patients. One in every two cardiologists already advocate for patients to consider how remote monitoring devices/wearables could help them self-report their condition. Empowering patients to be more involved in managing their own care is a key concern for cardiologists as they deal with the ongoing effects of the pandemic. More than two-thirds believe remote monitoring would help enable a more proactive approach (67%) and improve overall outcomes through early detection and mitigation (68%).
As apps and technology have improved, healthcare professionals are able to look at patient’s data on a regular basis, rather than occasionally. Overall, these devices that come with technological advances have the potential to affect a paradigm shift in healthcare, transforming the patient-doctor experience from one that is based on emergencies or when something goes wrong, to one that is regular and focuses on the patients’ overall well-being. India has also accepted these technologies as doctors can monitor their patients remotely and customize therapy according to their individual clinical needs.
Future for remote patient monitoring
Today, as we battle a global pandemic, leveraging various remote patient monitoring technologies to reduce patient contact has gained prominence. Individuals with non-communicable diseases (NCDs), particularly cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and chronic lung diseases, are at even higher risk of COVID-19 infections and its complications. With ongoing social distancing and stay-at-home instructions, many patients find it hard to get even the routine healthcare they need for fear of increasing their risk of exposure to COVID-19. During these times, remote monitoring and tele-health have played a pivotal role. The presence of such technology enables doctors to optimise treatment and target high risk populations who need more supervision, with the potential opportunity to implement early interventions.
The current health crisis has served as a catalyst for the adoption of technological advancements that will continue to drive improvements in healthcare well beyond the pandemic, with continued innovation in providing remote care.
Ajay Singh Chauhan is General Manager – India, SEA, HK, Taiwan and Korea, Cardiac Rhythm Management, Abbott.
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