Product Design Considerations for Remote Patient Monitoring

Remote Patient Monitoring Product Design ConsiderationsImagine having a small biometric patch on your arm that tracks key health parameters like temperature, blood pressure, glucose levels and more. Calibrated specifically to your baseline health data, this patch talks to a database and your smartphone, translating remote patient monitoring information into easy-to-understand insights that empower medical professionals miles away to deliver more proactive care and improved outcomes.

In the not-too-distant future, this will be the reality of health care product development. The rapidly growing field of remote patient monitoring — or RPM — lets doctors, nurses and other health care professionals keep an eye on their patients without needing them in the same room — or even the same city.

With RPM claim volume increasing nearly 1,300% between January 2019 and November 2022, companies in the early stages of developing remote patient monitoring systems must understand how the various components and sensors interplay and key considerations when building RPM products to drive positive change in the health care sector.


The Components of a Remote Patient Monitoring System

A traditional RPM system generally consists of the following components:

  • Data collection: Obtains patient readings via wearables, at-home devices, sensors, etc. Considerations include device capabilities, connectivity, power, security and ease of use.
  • Data transmission: Securely transfers data from devices to a database using protocols like Bluetooth, cellular or Wi-Fi depending on power and frequency.
  • Data processing: Normalizes data and extracts insights via algorithms and artificial intelligence. Generates alerts and ensures accuracy.
  • Electronic health record (EHR) integration: Interfaces raw data and insights with patient electronic health records. Consider API capabilities and workflow impacts.
  • Visual dashboards: Present information clearly to help providers monitor patients and intervene early.
  • Automated billing: Automatically submits proper codes to bill services to insurance providers, requiring compliance with regulations.
  • Onboarding and compliance tracking: Guides patients to properly use devices, monitoring usage to improve engagement.


Remote Patient Monitoring Sensors

Any remote patient monitoring system demands accurate sensors to collect data on a patient’s vital signs, activity levels and other health metrics. Some of the most common RPM device sensors include:

  • Blood pressure sensors.
  • Blood glucose sensors.
  • Pulse oximeters.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors.
  • Activity trackers.
  • Weight scales.
  • Thermometers.
  • Sleep and resting heart rate monitors.

Our experience reveals seemingly minuscule value in developing new sensors and seeking Food and Drug Administration certification for existing sensor modalities, as multiple adequate solutions are already available. Integrating commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) sensors into the system is likely the best alternative, avoiding a lengthy FDA approval process, lowering the initial development costs and providing greater procurement flexibility. Perhaps in future iterations, unique sensors that differentiate your RPM system will be desired, but integrating existing sensors tends to be the best option for market entry.


Data Telemetry in RPM Systems

While you can purchase FDA-certified sensors, remote patient monitoring innovations still need a data collection system for gathering important health information and transmitting it to the cloud. The type of data collection system used will depend on the nature of the individual measurement and the measurement frequency. Some sensors, such as activity trackers, are worn continuously and require significant power management. Others, like weight scales, might be used once a day and can be plugged in.

Typically, lower-power devices use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) for communications through a smartphone or a dedicated hub. Less power-constrained devices can use Wi-Fi or cellular without needing a hub. There are also many in-between options, such as Zigbee, LoRa, Amazon Sidewalk and others. Radio selection will be governed by the desired patient experience — for example, a remote patient monitoring system that necessitates little to no effort on the part of elderly or infirm patients.

The data collection system must also meet the security and privacy regulations set out by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): Data must be encrypted and protected from unauthorized access. Understanding that remote patient monitoring devices demand data collection, ensuring patients can — and do — use these solutions (and that the products comply with various regulations) is important.


Patient Onboarding and Compliance Monitoring

Onboarding and compliance monitoring are essential components of any RPM system. The onboarding process should be simple and easy to follow, even for patients who are not tech-savvy, and include the following steps:

  • Registering the patient.
  • Obtaining consent for RPM (required for reimbursement).
  • Shipping the equipment to the patient.
  • Educating the patient on how to use the equipment.

The compliance monitoring process should track the patient’s use of the equipment and provide reminders when compliance drops, whether through automated alerts, text messages or phone calls. Gamification can also encourage patient compliance, with patients earning points for using the equipment regularly or for completing educational modules. The device manufacturer should coordinate the onboarding and compliance monitoring process but may also involve training doctor’s offices to instruct patients on how to use the equipment and monitor its compliance.

While data collection and patient interaction systems are pivotal components of remote patient monitoring, keeping best development practices in mind is equally important.


Key Considerations for Remote Patient Monitoring Products

As companies like yours develop more — and more specialized — products, understanding how your RPM product fits within a larger system is critical to improving patient outcomes and saving health care costs.

Consider the following best practices as you embark on the path to product development:

  • Leverage standards where possible for data, algorithms, APIs, etc. to ease integrations.
  • Prioritize ease of use through the entire workflow from patient onboarding to clinical reviews.
  • Ensure accuracy with sensor calibration, data validation and alert triaging to avoid false alerts.
  • Simplify integration into diverse EHRs via APIs and standardized formats like the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard.
  • Protect patient privacy and comply with regulations like HIPAA at every step of development.
  • Provide actionable insights to clinicians so they can intervene early and improve outcomes.
  • Enable flexible deployment via cloud, on-premise or hybrid options to meet customer needs.


Empowering Health Care Through Remote Patient Monitoring

Developing successful RPM solutions requires expertise across medical, hardware, software, analytical and regulatory disciplines. Partnering with an experienced product development firm allows you to supplement your team with specialized skills.

Look for a partner with proven capabilities in:

If you need help designing, developing or deploying your remote patient monitoring product, reach our experts to discuss how our multidisciplinary team can accelerate your product’s launch.