The need for remote patient monitoring, or RPM, for pain management has never been in higher demand since the wake of the latest pandemic. As COVID-19 necessitated the need for social distancing and filled hospitals to capacity, other healthcare needs transitioned to remote interactions. In particular, telehealth has become more commonplace, including telehealth pain management for patients with chronic illnesses.

Considering proposed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), chronic pain patients were advised to resort to technology for non-essential treatments. At the forefront of this technology? Telehealth and remote patient monitoring.

Telehealth Defined

Telehealth is an online healthcare solution that involves the use of telecommunication technologies to provide clinical services and distribute medical information. It enables patients across the globe to virtually contact their healthcare providers from anywhere in the world.

Examples of Telehealth

Many patients have experienced the perks of telehealth without even knowing they were using it. Telehealth is a fairly simple system, making use of modern tools to simplify our healthcare needs.

Some practical examples of telehealth in action include:

  • A telephone or video call with a healthcare provider regarding personal health concerns
  • Surgeons using advanced technological tools to perform surgeries from another location
  • Motion sensors and related devices utilized to alert caregivers and concerned personnel of urgent updates (i.e.: a mentally ill patient leaving confinement)
  • Medical records generated via Electronic Health Record (EHR)
  • Video tutorials created to demonstratively teach a patient how to relieve pain
  • Text message alerts or emails to remind patients of upcoming treatments or appointments with their healthcare provider
  • Healthcare providers check a patient’s vitals using advanced tools through remote patient monitoring

Telehealth vs. Telemedicine

The term telemedicine is often used interchangeably with telehealth. While the two have similarities, they are distinct and aren’t to be confused with one another. Known as ‘e-medicine’, telemedicine involves the provision of virtual healthcare services from anywhere in the world. Examples of telemedicine include virtual consultations, examinations, and on-screen diagnosis; think of it as a remote delivery of healthcare services.

Telehealth is an umbrella term that telemedicine falls into. While all telemedicine is part of telehealth, not all telehealth is telemedicine.

Remote Patient Monitoring & Its Impact on COVID-19

Closely affiliated with telehealth, remote patient monitoring has grown immensely over the last few years. After many clinics and hospitals closed their doors with the onset of COVID-19, patients suffering from chronic illnesses were left searching for alternative care. A considerable gap needed to be bridged between patients and their physicians.

Fortunately, a growing number of healthcare institutions made remote patient monitoring readily available to chronic health patients, allowing them to seek medical advice and consult their doctors from the comfort of their own homes.

Remote patient monitoring makes use of diverse and technologically advanced tools to provide patients in-home access for pain relief. Mobile clinics, virtual mobile services networks, and remote extensions of physical therapy providers are made possible with RPM.

Apart from its prominent role in facilitating care for those struggling with chronic illness, remote patient monitoring has offered reforms in the current healthcare system. With RPM quite literally in the palm of their hands, many patients have deemed telehealth a preferred alternative to walk-in visits.

Offering Telehealth & RPM Solutions for Pain Management

Telehealth for chronic pain has been rapidly gaining popularity across the globe. Chronic pain is a condition that affects 1 in 5 Americans and costs the healthcare system approximately $650 billion per year. To ensure the provision of premium-quality healthcare, it is essential to establish a digital network that is foolproof and reliable. Establishing a telehealth system is a complex and layered procedure often divided into the following two phases.

Phase I

  • Shortlist and form a dynamic team of passionate healthcare professionals.
  • Formulate a framework to help ensure smooth and comprehensive pain treatment plans.
  • Determine the frequency of home visits, walk-in visits, and testing.
  • Develop reliable software and hardware where all communication takes place; this platform may also be used to store confidential patient records.
  • Sync this software to staff mobile devices.
  • Gather data on an organization’s patient population.
  • Initiate pilot-testing of new systems.

Phase II

  • Provide pain treatment services to a cohort of chronic pain patients.
  • Assess the success of RPM. This can be done by conducting surveys that express patient satisfaction and the effect of the treatment they received. Measures of pain intensity, depression, mood, frequency of the use of painkillers, and life quality are examples of indicators used to assess the quality of treatment.
  • Compare this data to other cohorts of chronic pain patients in real-time.
  • The conclusive results of the collected data should be published and spread via conferences or presentations. This would stir a debate on telehealth’s efficacy.

Benefits of Telehealth for Chronic Pain Management

Individuals struggling with chronic pain have uncomfortable lives as it is, and the responsibility of making regular hospital visits makes day-to-day living more of a challenge. Telehealth helps to saves patients discomfort by eliminating a chunk of the burden from traveling. Using telehealth, chronic health patients can avoid parking hassles, save on wasted gas, and avoid other inconveniences. As such, most physicians encourage chronic health patients to take advantage of the telehealth services available to them.

For healthcare professionals, the flexibility that telehealth provides has been a blessing in disguise. Even before the pandemic, chronic pain patients consulted their providers virtually. Now, with further telehealth integration, providers have even more flexibility and capacity within their spaces.

From an environmental perspective, telehealth can reduce vehicle usage and contribute to a sustainably sound health system.

Here are a few specific reasons why patients with chronic pain prefer telehealth:

  • The technology removes the hassle of arranging travel and commutes.
  • Pain management becomes more accessible for those who are living in remote or inaccessible areas.
  • Patients can seek professional advice from doctors located anywhere.
  • Patients can seek chronic pain management from anywhere in the world.
  • Patients with chronic pain get frequent and reliable access to their healthcare provider
  • Appointments are more cost-friendly than walk-in visits.

What Types of Pain Management Appointments Are Suitable for Virtual Care?

Certain chronic pain management needs can be effectively dealt with via a telehealth appointment. With telehealth, healthcare providers can track patient progress with pain and edit their regimen accordingly. Remote appointments for pain management can cover:

  • Routine check-ups.
  • Follow-up appointments for tracking pain intensity.
  • Prescription revisions.
  • Counseling sessions for depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that may arise due to chronic pain.
  • Nutritional advice to boost recovery.

Telehealth and The Pain Management Electronic Health Record

First appearing in hospitals in the 1960s, EHR is an automated software that saves time and effort for doctors and patients alike. Doctors praise EHR software because it allows them to focus on their patients rather than rummaging through extensive record files. With just one touch, a healthcare professional can gain access to all required information to provide care to a patient.

Pain Management EHR leverages this software specifically for the purposes of pain management. The software has vacant spaces for the most common complaints, general procedures, workflow, interfaces, and emergency prescriptions, allowing for doctors to act swiftly on patient needs.

While originally just used for hospitals, combining Telehealth with EHR has even further streamlined chronic pain management. Integrated Telehealth technology seamlessly uploads at-home diagnostics to EHR systems in hospitals, creating a holistic, combined database of information. Connecting these two solutions only further eliminates the barriers between hospital and home care.

RPM Pain Management Solutions

Trapollo is a leader in RPM solutions built for pain management treatment. Our technology offers passive and interactive sessions between patients and healthcare providers while maintaining confidentiality. Trapollo’s solutions even permit third-party or bring-your-own–devices to join a session, ensuring a thorough consultation.

All telecommunication mediums, such as cellular activation, WiFi, or broadband, are hosted by Trapollo’s technology. Through our hosting, we ensure that our patients enjoy a hassle-free telehealth experience.

Learn more about our RPM solution offerings here.

Mr. Nester has focused in his career on business management, process improvement and services delivery. He has led project management, professional/engineering services and support services organizations providing solutions to the U.S. Federal Government and commercial Healthcare. He joined Trapollo in 2016 where he has served as the Chief Operating Officer leading the Trapollo services and operations teams as well as ensuring security and regulatory compliance.

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