For a generation of caregivers for whom it’s innate to use technology as a means to connect, communicate and organize their lives, the ability to remote monitor the health of a loved one is a logical next step.

That’s the idea behind Cloud DX’s new Family Connect, which not only enables those with a chronic illness to monitor their vitals from home, but also shares data with three select family and friends. (Healthcare providers can also be added to the list).

“It is about empowering the circle of care and giving them another tool that provides peace of mind,” says Cloud DX spokesperson Craig Douglas.

For $149, the Family Connect bundle includes the Pulsewave Health Monitor, a USB-powered wrist cuff blood pressure monitor that also measures heart rate and cardiac anomalies, as well as an Android Health Tablet. Pulsewave records up to 4,000 data points from the user’s radial artery pulse, then securely transmits information to the Cloud Diagnostics servers, which display results on the tablet in close to real time. (To purchase, call 1-888-543-0944 or email sales@clouddx.com.)

With the Family Connect service, which costs an additional $9.99 a month, users participate in a virtual intake call with a registered nurse to discuss health issues, set a monitoring schedule (an alarm reminds people when its time to don the wrist cuff) and determine ideal thresholds for key data, such as blood pressure. Users provide consent and contact details for sharing data and those people are notified by email only if anything goes outside the predetermined threshold. All results are stored permanently so that users can track their data online, note anomalies, and use it as a tool during appointments with healthcare professionals.

“Loved ones in the circle of care are now being made aware of the vital sign readings day-to-day and can intervene accordingly,“ says Douglas, who even uses the service in partnership with his own mom. When they noticed anomalies with her heart rhythm they were able to track a pattern, print out the data and share it with her cardiologist.

“This is effective because it is not just patient gathered data, but digitally gathered. It’s a medical record so (HCPs) take it much more seriously than if you just went in and said, ‘I feel funny when I stand up,’” says Douglas.  “Our tools allow doctors to do to move towards a diagnosis more quickly.”

At the moment, there isn’t a huge uptake in remote patient monitoring (RPM) by individual Canadian healthcare professionals because there’s no billing code, however all indicators are it’s just a matter of time.

RPM is gaining momentum on a global scale due, in part, to a tech-comfortable aging population managing multiple chronic health diseases. Plus, the technology is becoming smarter and more affordable. A KLAS Research report surveying 25 healthcare organizations found 38 percent those running RPM programs focused on chronic disease reported reduced admissions, while 17 percent cited cost reductions.

Medicare in the United States is adding RPM codes so that healthcare professionals can bill not only for the monitoring itself, but also for educating people about the value proposition—fewer visits to the hospital or doctor office, convenience, real-time data and overall cost savings for the healthcare system. The new “Growth Opportunities in the US Remote Patient Monitoring Market, Forecast to 2023” report states that the overall RPM market is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 19.8 percent from 2017 to 2023.

That’s in keeping with what Douglas is seeing here in Canada—a month over month growing desire for RPM: “I believe in the next five years it is going to overhaul the healthcare system. The money saved is massive and, more importantly, it offers better outcomes for the patient—they get to be cared for in the comfort of their home.”