Passive Analytics and the Future of RPM (Remote Patient Monitoring)

The following us a guest article by David Hunt, Founder and CMO of Cosán Group.

Two themes we often hear lately in healthcare, and particularly senior care, are virtual care and telehealth. Although we understand what these broad approaches to care delivery mean in theory, it’s not always clear how to effectively incorporate them in practice.

Over the last decade, advancements in health technology have given providers better tools to execute on these care-delivery models, but more progress still needs to be made to meet the demands of the rapidly-growing senior patient population. With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing telemedicine and virtual care to the forefront, it is time the healthcare industry turns our attention to the infinite possibilities of remote patient monitoring (RPM) and how that can further improve the efficiency, outcomes, and the cost of delivering care.

Active & Passive Analytics

Active analytics requires patients to utilize devices, often ones they are very familiar with like a weight scale or blood pressure cuff, to support the transition of data. Passive analytics, or passive data collection, is an approach to remote patient monitoring by which providers can collect important information about a patient’s health without them actively participating. Unlike many RPM tools which require a patient’s ability to use a device correctly, or even remember to use it at all — passive analytics require patients to do nothing more than live their normal lives. This of course has huge value to seniors, who face various barriers to tech adoption.

Although the continued deployment of devices to support active engagement by patients exist, and will for some time, we are quickly moving to passive analytics to support more frequent real time data, specifically among the oldest population of patients. Beyond the ease of use, this method of data collection has enormous value for both patients and physicians. Because it requires no action, passive data is often a more consistent and accurate snapshot into patient health, collected in real time, allowing the care team to proactively address their patients’ needs. Increasingly, these high-tech tools are becoming available in the home, ensuring older adults can comfortably age in place.

Where We Are Finding Value

An example of passive analytics and how it can provide particularly valuable insight into a patient’s overall health is when the tech is leveraged during sleep. Sleep can be an optimal time to collect valuable biometric information, including weight, heart rate, and respiration patterns, and some solutions even detect sleep stages through AI algorithms. It can also provide other insights into a patient’s health, including how often they are getting up, how often they are moving, and how they are breathing, all of which may be indicators of existing or worsening chronic conditions such as sleep apnea or COPD. Most recently, innovative companies such as UDP Labs have helped bring this advanced passive data technology, previously only available in hospitals, directly to patients’ homes. By placing smart pads under bed posts and collecting data at such high resolution, the results are comparable to an EKG.

Passive monitoring is also valuable in speech analysis, which can offer real insight into not only physical and cognitive health, but also behavioral health. One real-world application is MyndYou’s voice BOT, which uses AI to detect statistical anomalies in voice patterns. After collecting passive data during check-in calls between patients and their care team, the BOT processes and detects patterns and health challenges that a human may not notice, or that a patient may not share. Sleep and voice are just two areas where passive analytic technology is already proving its value, but the possibilities are endless and further amplified when aligned with care coordination teams that are managing at risk patient populations using these technologies.

The Future of RPM

While remote patient monitoring has been gaining momentum for years, never before has it been so important than during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this is only the beginning. I believe we are on the cusp of realizing the immense value of these passive analytic tools, the endless insights we can draw from them, and how critical they will be to improving efficiency, costs, and outcomes — the very foundation of value-based case.