Remote Patient Monitoring Effectively Assures Continuity of Care in Asthma Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Keywords:asthma, COVID-19, patient safety, quality, telehealth
Background: Digital health tools to bridge gaps in managing infectious pandemics was a proposition grounded until recently more in the hypothetical than in reality. The last two years have exposed the extraordinary global need for robust digital solutions.
Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the ability of remote patient monitoring (RPM) during the COVID-19 pandemic to improve clinical outcomes and assure continuity of care in patients with asthma.
Methods and Findings:
Design: The intervention combined health coaching telephone calls and remote telemonitoring.
Participants: 102 patients with asthma were enrolled in a telemonitoring protocol at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
Setting: A private, university affiliated, outpatient clinical adult and pediatric allergy/immunology and pulmonary practice.
Intervention: Patients were enrolled with the primary rationale of maintaining continuity of care in the face of uncertain clinical care options. Enrollment and data collection proceeded in a fashion to allow detailed retrospective analysis. Telemonitoring included a pulse oximeter linked to a smart phone using the software platform Plan-it Med (PIM)®. A healthcare professional monitored data daily, and patients were contacted by providers due to vital sign abnormalities and treatment plan alterations. Patients were encouraged to remain on the platform daily during the first three months of the pandemic. After respiratory and or clinical stability was achieved and clinic visit opportunities were resumed, patients were encouraged to maintain engagement with the platform but were not expected to use the platform daily.
Main Outcome measures: Asthma Control Test (ACT) scores were recorded before and after 6 months. Paired Wilcoxon signed-rank tests (dependent groups, before vs. after) and Wilcoxon rank-sum (Mann-Whitney) tests were performed for unpaired results (independent groups, RPM vs. Control).
Results: 19 of 102 patients had physiological abnormalities detected (18.6%). Eight of these 19 patients had actionable changes in prescription regimens based on RPM findings (42.1%). In patients utilizing RPM, there was a reported decrease in shortness of breath episodes and a decreased need for rescue inhalers/nebulizer medications (P=0.005). Daily engagement in the first three months of the protocol was 61%. In a subset analysis, 48 study participants (47.1%) chose to continue to actively use the program for at least 14 months. 54 RPM patients were 99.1% compliant with RPM after 110 patient months. Of the patients that chose to discontinue the RPM program the reasons included: (1) symptom alleviation (41.7%); (2) out-of-pocket costs to patients (38.9%), and (3) difficulty using the RPM program (16.7%).
Conclusions: A novel RPM technology positively impacted continuity of care, asthma outcomes, quality of life, and self-care.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Christopher March, BS, Kimberly Gandy, MD, PhD, Jos Domen, PhD, Sayyed Hamidi, MD, MBA, MPH, Ryan Chen, BS, Paul Barach, MD, MPH, Anthony Szema, MD
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