Remote patient monitoring (RPM) helps researchers and other healthcare professionals make strides with clinical trials. In recent years, especially as we’ve seen with COVID-19, RPM has allowed us to conduct more successful remote clinical trials.
RPM goes beyond laboratories and in-person meetings to get more accurate data, keeps patients enrolled in trials, and works with participants in a more patient-centric way. Still, RPM involves more than using devices and technology to get results. It’s about creating a human-centric experience of patient monitoring and adapting it in ways that help patients and improve clinical trial research.
What Is Remote Patient Monitoring?
RPM incorporates a set of patient-centric devices, also referred as connected peripherals. These devices are normally tethered with Bluetooth technology, and provide the ability to capture daily vitals from a patient in their own home. RPM is a type of telehealth that uses technology to keep track of and receive patient data when the patient is within the four walls of a traditional healthcare setting. For most people, it’s no different from wearing a Fitbit. RPM devices are sometimes implanted into the body, as with some cardiac study participants.
“While most consumers are familiar with activity tracking devices such as Fitbits, Garmin, Apple Watches, etc., the ability to collect patient data using smart devices is far more comprehensive today and includes a broad range of Bluetooth-enabled devices that collect health-related data in real time,” said Kent Thoelke, Executive Vice President of Scientific and Medical Affairs.
RPM enables healthcare professionals to receive information from a distance. It reduces or even eliminates the need for patients to travel to the clinical trial site. RPM uses a combination of devices and patient engagement software to securely transport it to the researchers to use in their study.
By reducing wait times in healthcare offices, RPM creates a more efficient system for monitoring patients. It also allows us to give care more quickly than in-person visits.
But RPM is about more than the tech aspect. It’s part of a larger equation, even more so than the technology. After all, the purpose of RPM is to make clinical trials more convenient for participants, too.
How Does Remote Patient Monitoring Create Trial Success?
Researchers can monitor the aggregated study data via a clinical dashboard. The dashboard is designed around the focused outcomes, and provides different service elements to the clinical trial process.
Participants don’t simply receive a device. The device is specifically tailored with the study itself—it’s designed around the vitals required to be captured per the study protocol. This allows the program to be patient-centric and focus on the key attributes of a study. For example, a study for diabetes could be paired with a Bluetooth connected glucometer, while another study for CHF could be paired with a blood pressure monitor, weight scale and pulse oximeter.
As part of the enrollment process, a site coordinator or research assistant will educate the patient on the RPM kit that is provided. This includes providing instructions, demo usage and comfort fittings. The goal is to enable the best patient experience. By doing so early in the process, it drives a greater compliance to the overall program.
RPM helps patients stay the course around the study protocol. It provides subtle notifications and reminders along the patient journey. At PRA, we have incorporated these digital tools to help remind patients to take their medications if we notice a drop in adherence. A great example is when we worked on a study where we worked on a study where we reminded patients to put their medication in the fridge and take a survey online. That connection with patients resulted in 85% adherence to medication and 96% compliance with ePRO standards at 12 weeks.
RPM makes it easier to identify patterns in patient conditions, creating a more accurate picture of what patients experience daily. Then, researchers try to figure out why they experience those phenomena.
The value RPM brings to clinical trials are many, including the ability to reduce the travel burdens for patients, drive new operational efficiencies in the workflow, reduce costs across the entire trial for sponsors, and the use of advanced technology to capture, analyze and manage the life-cycle of a study.
How Do We Continue to Improve Remote Patient Monitoring?
RPM makes clinical trials more accessible. However, since some people live in rural or underdeveloped areas, some of these locations do not have reliable access to wireless connectivity, making it difficult to reach populations in need of care.
Other studies require more specialized technology rather than generic health monitoring. For these studies, we still need to create new technology that caters to more specific diseases and disorders to get more in-depth information.
Remote patient monitoring has so far allowed us to gain more information and make more progress in healthcare than ever before. Through COVID-19 trials alone, we have learned better ways to conduct these trials and communicate better with patients. As we improve remote technology, we can also enhance the patient experience in clinical trials.
We’re committed to building trust in decentralized trials with remote technology. We show patients that we can still meet their needs and connect with them from a distance and in an environment that makes them comfortable.
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