Why is rapid evaluation of technology-enabled remote monitoring needed now?
The focus of DECIDE is on technology-enabled remote monitoring. This involves the use of technology, devices or apps to support people who take up care and support to monitor and manage their ill-health, disability or limiting long-term physical or mental health conditions or general well-being. Remote monitoring enables the remote exchange of information, primarily between them and health or care professionals, and to assist them in diagnosis, monitoring and management of better health and wellbeing. For some people, to gain control and live more independent lives.
Remote exchange is typically supported by consultations or other interactions (e.g. messaging) that enable sense-making of that information, enabling systematic review and monitoring, accompanied by (where needed) changes in the care being received.
Examples include using apps, personal or medical gadgets (e.g. activity trackers, pulse oximeters, heart monitors) to support active and systematic review and monitoring of health and care; ‘virtual ward services’ to monitor, review and support care at home; smartphones to share and review vital sign readings (e.g. blood pressure) with care providers.
Remote monitoring is being tested and used across the UK for many conditions (e.g. elderly and frail care, diabetes, respiratory and heart diseases). It has the potential to improve care quality and service user experience, prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital and A&E, reduce length of stay in hospitals, prevent infection transmission and allow people to access care safely, at a suitable time and location.
There is much we do not know about whether different types of remote monitoring work as intended; when they work and for whom, why and how; how they can be appropriately spread across health and care services, and what is needed to make sure they are helpful and do not disadvantage access to and quality of care for some people.
There is an urgent need to rapidly assess (i.e. evaluate) promising remote monitoring practices quickly and accurately, to answer these questions.
The DECIDE team has been carrying out a combination of a rapid scoping review of the literature with stakeholder consultation to identify evidence gaps and potential areas for evaluations, including a diversity of perspectives and consideration of how TERM may influence digital and health inequalities (a core theme for DECIDE).
Our first rapid evaluation is to be confirmed soon.