If you’ve ever taken a Tylenol for a headache without checking with a doctor first, used Google to “diagnose” a cold, or broke out the heating pad for a tight back because you were certain it was nothing serious, you’ve self-medicated. But one-offs like these aren’t the concern when discussing the risks of not monitoring the self-medicated patient.
The occasional over-the-counter medication or at-home remedy may not be problematic for you or me. But there is danger in allowing self-medicated patients to go it alone—especially in older demographics.
The Dangers of Self-Medication
The National Library of Medicine defines self-medication as, “the practice of an individual user available medications or substances to treat self-diagnosed symptoms or conditions. In general, the practice of self-medication applies to any ailment or condition that a person may treat without the help of a healthcare professional. This includes minor injuries or illnesses such as the common cold.”
People self-medicate for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they’re busy, want relief immediately, or assume their condition is minor. In the senior population, they may not want to be a burden.
Self-medicating without monitoring might work for a while in some cases, but it’s not foolproof, nor is it a long-term solution—especially for seniors. When those seniors are suffering from chronic conditions or have a fall risk, the problem of not monitoring is even greater.
Self-Medicating with Alcohol and Drugs
The term “self-medicating” has also come to refer to the use of alcohol or drugs to cope with pain or emotional distress. This has its own set of risks but can be especially dangerous for older patients. Monitoring these patients is critical to ensuring their health isn’t endangered and their condition isn’t deteriorating.
The Real Risks of Not Monitoring the Self-Medicated Patient
Patients who self-medicate without monitoring aren’t getting the care they need, plain and simple. Specific risks of not monitoring the self-medicated patient include:
This can mean their health conditions aren’t properly treated or newly developed conditions go undiagnosed. They’re likely dealing with increased or continued pain and discomfort without a viable treatment plan and ongoing management, but they’re also potentially putting themselves at great risk.
- Undiagnosed conditions—Without regular care and ongoing monitoring, patients may not be aware of serious and possibly life-threatening health conditions they may have developed.
- Incorrect diagnoses—Everyone checks their symptoms on Google. But the Internet can only tell you so much. A patient might think their allergies are acting up when, in reality, they’re fighting a sinus infection. Self-medicating may also mask serious conditions or severe diseases.
- Delayed diagnosis—Some conditions can worsen and become life-threatening because of delays in diagnosing the patient.
- Medication issues—People who self-medicate may be taking the wrong kind of medication or the wrong dosage. They might not be using the most effective medication, and their medication may cause dangerous interactions with other medications or vitamins. Older patients are often managing multiple health conditions or comorbidities. It’s possible there could be newer or better medications, including drugs that can treat multiple symptoms, which would allow them to cut back. Overuse of non-prescription medications may also lead to serious health conditions. For example, too much Tylenol may lead to liver damage, while overuse of ibuprofen can cause stomach problems. Then again, taking too little may not control pain.
- Potential for drug addiction—If patients are coping with alcohol or drugs, they might develop a dependence. Drugs and alcohol can also mask serious health conditions by managing the pain. They can also trigger or worsen mental health issues.
- Incomplete health information—Patients who are not being monitored don’t have the benefit of tracking changes in their blood pressure, heart rate, and other important health screenings.
Patient Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring allows patients to maintain their independence while staying connected to a care team 24/7. Additional benefits of the remote healthcare relationship for patients include:
- Improved health outcomes—Remote monitoring encourages self-care by increasing patient buy-in, accountability, and care plan compliance, all of which have been proven to have a positive impact on both patients’ physical condition and mental state.
- It lowers risk and increases access to care—Remote patient monitoring reduces in-person medical visits; contact with other patients; emergency room visits; time spent in the hospital; readmissions after hospitalizations; and exposure to pathogens and airborne viruses. At the same time, it improves access to care and provides a path for streamlined chronic care management.
- Cost savings—Patients can save money on unnecessary emergency services and medical bills by keeping up.
- State-of-the-art technology—Because the nation’s remote patient monitoring companies incorporate the latest technological advancements, they offer patients the most up-to-date capabilities. And as technology continues to advance, advancements are further incorporated.
- Easy to use—Technologically advanced doesn’t mean difficult to operate. In fact, the advanced technology in Anelto’s remote patient monitoring products use makes them easier to operate. Features like voice-centric communication improve engagement, help simplify treatment plans, and improve compliance.
- Care team access. Companies like Anelto provide customer care based on the provider’s requirements, whether you use your office staff or one of Anelto’s clinical care partners.
- Insurance coverage. Anelto’s program is usually covered by Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and most commercial carriers when prescribed by a provider.
Provider Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring reduces operational costs, providing a strong return on investment while making healthcare more efficient. This reduces the stress on providers, practices, and the health care system as a whole. It also shifts the burden away from providers and medical practices; because programs like Anelto’s funnel calls to the care team.
About Anelto’s Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring has been utilized for more than two decades, and as this industry continues to grow and evolve, Anelto is ready. One of the nation’s leading remote healthcare companies, Anelto is on the leading edge of remote patient monitoring and is constantly working to redefine what’s possible with RPM.
Our goal is to help seniors thrive by creating better resources for physicians to connect and communicate with their patients. Anelto wraps a clinical care team around your patients. Whether you use your clinical staff or one of Anelto’s clinical care partners, your patients can rely on us for care whenever they need it.
Examples of Remote Healthcare Services by Clinical Staff
- Monitoring vital signs daily
- Patient support and regular monitoring of signs and symptoms
- Scheduling health maintenance appointments such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and yearly Medicare exams
- Refilling maintenance medications such as blood pressure medicine if approved in the protocol
- Providing patient education on condition(s) they are being treated for or are at risk of developing, as well as other health tips such as the importance of dental care
- Providing screenings for depression, fall risk, and many other important medical and behavioral health screenings
Anelto Offers Two RPM Programs:
- Easy to use by seniors
- Enhanced video for senior and provider
- Cellular – No Wi-Fi needed
- Conversational AI audio and on-screen
- Vital sign devices are paired before shipping
- Easy to use for seniors
- Enhanced audio capability
- Cellular – no Wi-Fi needed
- Voice-centric conversational AI
- Vital sign devices are paired before shipping
Contact us today for more information about remote patient monitoring or to Request a Demo.