Eric Topol: Remote patient monitoring is the future, but we're not there yet

With the promise of remote patient monitoring technologies comes privacy and legal issues, but there is reason to be optimistic, Eric Topol, M.D. told MedCity News.

Topol (pictured), a cardiologist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, who is conducting a clinical trial involving high-risk patients being hooked up to personal data trackers, thinks technologies like a portable electrocardiogram built into a smartphone case are the future.

"It's the real deal of what's going on in their world from a medical standpoint," Topol--who also serves as AT&T's chief medical advisor--told MedCity News. "The integration of that with the classical medical record is vital."

In a real-life example of this data-powered medicine, AliveCor Inc., announced a partnership with Practice Fusion in February, which will allow physician offices to import the AliveCor Heart Monitor's ECG (electrocardiogram) readings, annotated reports and expert reviews into the Practice Fusion EHR, enabling them to see a more complete picture of patients' medical history.

Topol told MedCity News the announcement was an important but "baby" step. "It's the future," he said. "But we've got a long way for this to become routine."

As Topol pointed out, his patients still must email him screenshots of their information before it can be put into their records.

As reported last July, more than half of accountable care organizations that responded to survey from Menlo Park, Calif.-based Spyglass Consulting Group are using remote patient monitoring to manage high-risk chronically ill patients.

Most of the hospitals and health systems interviewed for that survey were in the process of becoming ACOs. Fifty-five percent said they had deployed or were evaluating remote-monitoring technology to reduce readmissions, attain financial incentives related to chronic-disease management and care coordination and to increase self-management of disease.

Remote patient telemonitoring is the biggest driver of the global telemedicine market, according to an August 2013 report from Research and Markets.

The analysis predicts that the global telemedicine market will grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 18.9 percent from 2012 to 2016, primarily due to an increase remote patient telemonitoring and strategic partnerships among vendors.

To learn more:
- read the article in MedCity News

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