By Dr. Maninder Bedi
Here is the reality: The pandemic has forced the hands of hospitals and clinics and physicians across the country to not only find creative ways to still service patients at a high standard but also implement and adopt what used to be very specific forms of technology as more of the rules and not the exceptions.
This has never been more apparent than with the sudden influx of an array of cardiac remote monitoring capabilities at healthcare facilities all over the U.S. Nearly all of today’s implantable cardiac monitors, implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, pacemakers and external wearables are designed with some form of remote monitoring features, which can collect and transmit an extensive amount of data often utilized to determine a diagnosis or more frequently and actively monitor patient health.
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Up until the onslaught of the pandemic, however, the widespread use of remote monitoring among general cardiologists and electrophysiologists was really only just in its infant stages, despite the benefits of cardiac remote monitoring being demonstrated in several clinical studies over the past decade-plus, including IN-TIME. The data are very clear: The use of remote monitoring resulted in 50% relative risk reduction in mortality in comparison to the standard of care for heart failure patients. Additionally, the data recorded from these devices pointed to more frequent early detection, resulting in timelier interventions.
So, of course, given the opportunity for remote monitoring to potentially provide more quality care that could allow patients to lead longer and healthier lives, it was only a matter of time before physicians steadily increased the number of remote monitoring patients they would oversee. However, the rapid adoption and necessity of remote monitoring clinics during the pandemic has – not surprisingly – come with steep learning curves and occasional setbacks as the daily management of cardiac device data has suddenly gone from perhaps a few hundred patients to sometimes thousands of patients, dramatically impacting the standard of care.
Facilities, hospitals and cardiac clinics are quickly learning that the management of this data can pose massive, ongoing drawbacks if there isn’t a data management infrastructure already in place.
A few years ago, my team and I decided – in the best interest of our more than 4,000 cardiac device patients – that we would transition all of them to remote monitoring. Despite the aforementioned clinical benefits, the administrative burdens associated with managing this kind of data overload were plain and immediate. It was negatively impacting virtually every aspect of our work, especially the time we were able to dedicate directly to our patients.