Cardiovascular disease (CVD
) must be better managed for patient care to improve. The protocols for monitoring patients are rapidly evolving. Historically, patients who fall ill are required to travel in order to visit a general practitioner or hospital. This procedure may soon become a thing of the past.
The biggest trends in disease management currently revolve around remote patient monitoring (RPM), which enables the patients' health to be examined from a distance. This means that healthcare professionals do not need to examine their patients in person. Instead, consultations can be conducted over video call and patient readings and information can be accessed through a digital
platform. For more information please see the IDTechEx
report "Cardiovascular Disease 2020-2030: Trends, Technologies & Outlook
RPM for improving CVD management is not a new initiative by any means, but significant advancement has been made in the field and now cardiovascular RPM leverages a range of technologies and services to allow for the monitoring of patients both inside and outside of conventional healthcare settings. It involves a number of connected medical devices for use in the home. These devices provide physicians with the vital signs needed for holistic monitoring of a patient's condition and can help provide timely intervention to prevent costly acute episodes. Wearables - such as skin patches, accessories and smart clothing - are particularly relevant as most technological RPM innovations are made in this field. Their appeal lies in their ability to provide a greater level of convenience and comfort, thereby improving patient experience and outcomes.
Although wearable products and devices have largely been the centre of focus, non-wearable technology has also been developed as an alternative approach to monitoring cardiovascular diseases. Wearables devices don't always fit the criteria required to provide certain aspects of care. By their very nature they must be flexible, light in weight and convenient to the patient. This can sometimes restrict their range of purposes and applications.
Non-wearable technology is also used for CVD RPM as it can be advantageous in certain circumstances. For example, it can be more versatile and allow different functions to be combined into one product. In addition, patients are not always fit or willing to wear the device on their person. Trends in the non-wearable RPM technology space generally revolve around digital and electronic stethoscopes, contact-free patient monitoring and portable devices for monitoring cardiac health and activity.
CVD RPM has multiple applications beyond simple disease management. They include improving patient adherence, clinical trial monitoring, pre/post-op monitoring, and predicting/preventing cardiac events. Cardiovascular diseases where RPM has been used include hypertension, heart failure and arrhythmias. Patients are typically monitored over the progression of their condition but can also be monitored to diagnose unknown heart conditions. The latter is being advanced in the consumer space - the Apple
Watch can now utilise its optical sensor to detect atrial fibrillation in the background. As such, in the future we may see a trend towards consumer healthcare in the CVD space.