By JON BLOOM

The rate of adoption for virtual care and remote monitoring solutions has skyrocketed over the last year as access to in-person appointments has been limited, but despite the uptick, we’re still drastically underutilizing their potential. These solutions often focus on treating a singular episode or chronic condition, when in fact they can open the door to more wide-ranging proactive monitoring and care that can have huge benefits in the long term. 

By simply offering a touchpoint for patients to interact with the health care system through solutions like remote monitoring, providers can detect and address all sorts of problems before they escalate and require more intense, expensive interventions, even if the problem isn’t related to the primary purpose of the solution. 

The downstream effects of these solutions are significant, both in terms of reducing the financial strain by eliminating unnecessary ER visits and hospitalizations, and in the long-term patient outcomes that are improved by catching problems early. 

For example, a study from October we conducted with the Mid Atlantic Permanente Group found that one prevention program for patients at risk of diabetic foot complications also saw reductions in all-cause hospitalizations by 52 percent and emergency department visits by 41 percent. Despite the fact that the subject solution was originally designed specifically to help prevent diabetic foot complications, the touchpoint was able to have a profound impact on overall health and total cost of care. 

This follows previous research on other condition-specific remote patient monitoring solutions that showed similar reductions in all-cause hospitalizations and mortality, further supporting the idea that these solutions can have broader impacts than just helping treat the condition they’re designed for. 

These findings are especially significant considering many of these solutions, like the one studied in the October research, are often deployed to underserved populations who tend to be less

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