The statistics surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be startling, despite the ever-growing mental and physical fatigue that we’ve all experienced living through this frightening, intimidating and unprecedented era. More than 125 million cases worldwide have resulted in a death toll closing in on three million, while in the United States alone, 30 million reported infections have resulted in a death toll that reached 550,000. (1) One thing that can be said for certain about COVID is that it has changed the medical field drastically.
“One of the most important lessons we learned is that telehealth and virtual care are really important augmentations to our healthcare matrix and they’re here to stay,” says Stuart Long, CEO of Infobionic, which has been adapting and improving its own cardiac monitoring technology to meet these new needs.
The umbrella term for the advances that Long is describing is “telemetry,” which refers to the automatic measurement and transmission of data at a distance, generally via wireless technology these days, yet typically seen only inside the hospital. While Infobionic focuses on remote cardiac monitoring technology and rising importance around ‘always on’ remote health are drivers to extending telemetry beyond the hospital walls are indicative of its future importance.
He firmly believes that the future of healthcare will be a hybrid model, one that combines virtual, noninvasive monitoring with consultations with physicians as well as traditional physical exams. He explains that brick-and-mortar facilities may not be the best places for patients right now, while the hybrid model that’s emerging gives patients more choice and autonomy over their health care decisions.
In the wake of the worldwide COVID-19 health crisis, even traditional healthcare systems are adapting. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued a sweeping array of new rules and waivers being promoted as “Hospitals Without Walls.” The initiative is designed to empower hospitals and health care facilities to provide services beyond their existing facilities, not only to enable COVID-19 treatment but also to support healthcare needs that were traditionally delivered within physical locations. Patients could use something like InfoBionic’s evolving MoMe® Kardia cardiac monitoring platform, where an individual wears a small monitor that streams their cardiac data in near real-time to the cloud. The information and a complete record are then proactively delivered to the cardiologist, who can access the information anytime, anywhere.
The medical evidence that has emerged from COVID studies has also lent itself to the rise of remote monitoring technologies. The Coronavirus is a terribly tricky disease for the major reason that it affects each patient differently. Some people have symptoms that are no worse than a mild cold, while a thus-far misunderstood inflammatory syndrome attacks a variety of vital organs, among them the liver, lungs (5) and heart. (6)
Long affirms that remote patient monitoring is here to stay, not just because of urgent medical needs that have emerged this year, but also because of patient demand. According to a study by McKinzie, consumer use of telehealth services has risen from 11 percent in 2019 to 46 percent now using telehealth to replace traditional healthcare visits, while providers are now seeing between 50 and 175 times the number of patients via telehealth. (7) Monitoring services for conditions beyond cardiac care may include obesity, diabetes and arrythmias and atrial fibrillation (AFIB), which could potentially create a market for telehealth that could total over $250 billion in healthcare spending within the next few years. (8)
“The landscape has wholly shifted in the realm of telemedicine due to the pandemic,” says Long. “Hybrid models are patient centric, easily portable to the virtual world, and they’re much safer for patients whether they’re at risk for COVID-19 or not. The biometric solutions that InfoBionic and other partners are creating aren’t just fueling the meteoric rise of telehealth. We’re changing how our patients access healthcare, improving timely and accurate data analysis, and improving patient outcomes. This is a rare win-win scenario for everyone.”