The essential ingredients for effective remote monitoring.

Jane Van Aken, Director of Product Development at Spirit Digital, shares her view on the most important ingredients for successful remote monitoring.

From the lessons 2020 has taught us, one of the most significant is the necessity to digitise services and processes, especially those within the healthcare sector.

Although digital healthcare or ‘telehealth’ has existed since the 90s, the demand to embrace digital has never been more urgent. As we focus on shielding the vulnerable, from care home residents to patients with chronic conditions, healthcare providers are rapidly adopting remote monitoring.

Remote monitoring aims to make healthcare easier for both patients and clinicians. Using an online platform, healthcare providers can communicate with patients and track their condition within a ‘virtual ward’. This development has empowered patients to self-manage in the comfort of their own homes, and enabled clinicians to utilise their time and resources more effectively.

As outlined in the 2020 NHS Framework for Enhanced Health in Care Homes, remote monitoring has been recognised as an opportunity to enhance quality of care for residents, while reducing GP call outs, ambulance calls and hospital admissions.  

Having the experience of developing our award-winning monitoring software ‘CliniTouch Vie’ (CTV), utilising our dedicated clinical, operational and development team, we would like to share the four essential ingredients required for effective remote monitoring.

Usability

A Microsoft study claims that the human attention span is continually getting shorter, and is now less than that of a goldfish (8 seconds).One impact of this is that  the way digital platforms look, feel and respond to the user is incredibly important. If a user logs on and dislikes the appearance or finds it difficult to use, the chances are they will never visit the app again or just delete it.

This is why making remote monitoring software easy to use for healthcare providers and patients is crucial.

“If digital technology isn’t solving a problem then it is unlikely to succeed”.

Jane Van Aken, Development Director

Throughout our development of CliniTouch Vie, we continually test to ensure that the platform doesn’t require extensive training to use and caters to people of all technical abilities. One of the main objectives of remote monitoring is to be quick, efficient, and convenient to use. If the platform isn’t user-friendly then it can’t make healthcare easier.

Data

Besides usability, a crucial ingredient for effective remote monitoring is data collection. By gathering data about the patient’s current condition based on algorithmic questions, the clinician is empowered to make quicker, more well-informed decisions that best serve the patient’s needs. Data helps the healthcare provider draw a picture of their patients’ health and indicates which patients should be prioritised.

The way the data is presented to the clinician is also important, to ensure it’s easy to interpret and report on. Clinicians can track how patients interact with the platform to provide insight into the patient’s concerns and where they may need extra support. For example, if a patient repeatedly visited an educational page on inhaler techniques, the clinician would be made aware and may choose to ask the patient if they need any additional support such as a video call to recap on a good inhaler technique.

Education

Another important element of remote monitoring is providing educational resources for patients. This empowers patients to self-manage their conditions in the comfort of their own homes, helping to reduce the risk of preventable complications and improving their quality of life.  Ensuring patients have access to approved, reliable information can reduce anxiety and give patients the tools to manage their disease on a daily basis with the goal of empowering them to lead a more enriched, informed and healthier life.

 Our CliniTouch Vie platform tailors the educational content to the patient’s specific needs and condition to make sure all the information is useful and relevant.

While enabling patients to self-manage helps them become more independent, it drastically saves time and money for healthcare organisations.

Engagement

To encourage patients and healthcare providers to engage with remote monitoring, there needs to be a two-way relationship between the users and the developers. Taking user feedback into consideration is a crucial part in developing the software to ensure it meets the needs of both the clinicians and patients.  Being open to both praise and constructive feedback is important to help the platform improve, grow and engage with users more effectively.

“As the product owner of CTV it is invaluable to collaborate with our clients to get the very best out of the system. I am so impressed by the expertise in the teams and how quickly they become the experts on CTV. We get highly intuitive feedback about an even better way of presenting a feature or simplifying an approach.

 It’s super gratifying for us as a development team as it means our product is in use, is being scrutinised for continuous improvement and that our clients are engaged and motivated – it’s a real win when we can implement a client’s request. That’s also true for our patient feedback.  A good example of this is the new Health Trends for patients which is coming soon by popular request.’

Jane Van Aken, Development Director

For clinicians who are reluctant to adopt the software, there should be emphasis on how remote monitoring is a tool to support and enhance care and is not a substitute for their clinical expertise and judgement. For patients, remote monitoring helps them manage their disease process, allows them to stay home and out of hospital and keep them connected to their clinician even when they can’t see them face to face.

The Future

It is clear there is great potential for remote monitoring and virtual wards as we move into the next phase of the pandemic and look to the future of community care. Undoubtedly, it will evolve based on what we learn and the changing expectations from healthcare providers and patients alike.

If you would like to find out more about any of the topics discussed or about our forthcoming interactive workshops, designed to help you identify problems and opportunities with your approach to remote monitoring and digital health at your organisation, please get in touch at info@spirit-digital.co.uk.

You might also be interested to read our blog Getting to grips with your digital health journey

Ref No: DIG/3274/JUL20