What’s the Problem?
Respiratory illnesses like the flu, COVID-19 and RSV are spreading across the United States at unusually high rates. Troublingly, those illnesses continue to impact children as well as adults – making it more important for clinicians to take advantage of modern healthcare tools like remote patient monitoring as a supplement to care.
As of October of 2022, researchers noted an increase in hospitalization rates for children aged 6 months and younger who fell ill due to COVID-19 (CDC, 2022). But the Coronavirus isn’t the only illness at play: Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is also on the rise. RSV is similar in nature to a common cold, but for young children with smaller airways, the virus can have serious complications.
Each year, RSV cases cause an average of 2.1 million doctor’s office visits and up to 80,000 hospitalizations among children ages five and younger (CDC, 2022). Within the past few weeks, regional statistics have shown large spikes of PCR detections of RSV cases in the Northeast. The occupancy of pediatric beds in pediatric hospitals has peaked this year over the previous two years (ABC News, 2022).
Other common viruses, including Enterovirus and Rhinovirus, are circulating more widely as school-aged children, including those with infant siblings, return to schools or daycares post-COVID. The seasonal flu also impacts young children, and hospitalization rates for the flu are the highest that they have been in decades.
While high-risk patients (such as infants under six months old, children with underlying health conditions like autoimmune conditions or cardiac conditions) may require hospitalization, some patients with respiratory illness can be managed in an outpatient setting.
How Can Remote Patient Monitoring Help?
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) refers to the collection of patient biometrics, which are transmitted to a clinician for review through a software application. Patients and caregivers can also use the application to respond to survey questions set by their provider, contact the provider via text or video call, and comply with time-specific medication reminders.
Educational tools designed to focus on the patient’s specific condition help parents and caregivers to better understand their child’s condition and familiarize themselves with important symptoms. After office visits, clinicians can upload videos to help users learn more about the topics discussed.
For example, caregivers of a child diagnosed with bronchiolitis or pneumonia as a complication of RSV could access information about the condition and learn to stay alert for signs and symptoms that could indicate clinical deterioration. If the child were prescribed medication through a nebulizer, the software could not only educate the caregiver on how to administer the treatment, but also help them track medication adherence for the provider to review.
By tracking patients’ and caregivers’ adherence to medication, RPM software can offer positive reinforcement and prevent ED admissions due to nonadherence. In studies of asthma patients, digital platforms have already proven successful in promoting medication adherence by educating patients and reminding caregivers when a medication is due.
Finally, RPM software that offers virtual visits, calls and texting capabilities has been shown to alleviate caregiver anxiety. By allowing parents to contact providers about questions or concerns regarding their child’s care, digital platforms can help them feel more secure and may significantly improve patient-provider relationships.
Patients who are classified as “high-risk” or who require an emergent provider assessment would not benefit from virtual care (Chowdhury et al., 2022). However, for some patients, an all-inclusive virtual care platform can decrease caregiver anxiety, patient clinical complications, and increase early recognition of signs or symptoms for concern, education, and access to care.
Learn more about how RPM can benefit your RSV patient populations with our free playbook!
As elevated rates of respiratory illness continue to impact the United States, telehealth and RPM can be powerful tools to support children and their caregivers. Through technology, clinicians can improve access to information and education, help caregivers recognize key signs of worsening clinical condition, improve adherence to treatment, and provide better care to patients.
If you want to learn how Health Recovery Solutions can help your organization better manage the surge in patient volume due to the flu, COVID, and RSV, talk to a digital health specialist today!
Chowdhury, D., Hope, K. D., Arthur, L. C., Weinberger, S. M., Ronai, C., Johnson, J. N., & Snyder, C. S. (2020). Telehealth for Pediatric Cardiology Practitioners in the Time of COVID-19. Pediatric cardiology, 41(6), 1081–1091. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00246-020-02411-1