COVID-19’s disruptions continue to accelerate the adoption of telemedicine and remote patient monitoring (RPM). Restrictions on non-essential travel and in-person meetings may not strictly apply to doctor’s visits, but people who take the pandemic’s threat seriously tend to err on the side of caution. People with chronic conditions that require frequent tests and regular physician visits face difficult choices while the the threat of COVID-19 infection remains high.

According to the American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2020 Update report, 6.2 million Americans are affected by heart failure and the number is increasing. Abbott commissioned the Heart Matters study, surveying cardiologists and other physicians about the challenges they see in caring for heart failure patients. Among other findings, the survey found that 78% of the cardiologists reported the pandemic has limited heart failure patients’ ability to manage their condition. An astounding 89% of the cardiologists surveyed have delayed or restricted procedures including heart transplants due to the virus.

Abbott’s CardioMEMS HF System is a remote monitoring platform developed to help physicians prevent worsening heart failure, lower mortality rates, and improve patient quality of life. The CardioMEMS HF System includes a pulmonary artery pressure sensor implanted in the distal pulmonary artery and a pillow-like device used to read data from the sensor. The patient lies on the sensor reading-device once a day. The system transmits the data wirelessly to the physician’s website where the cardiologist reviews the data and contacts the patient for further care as needed.

Patients access the CardioMEMS smartphone app to receive messages and alerts from their care team including medication reminders and any medication or lifestyle adjustments the clinicians advise based on the system data. Patients can also view real-time CardioMEMS readings and their transmission history on the app.

The condition of heart failure patients can decline rapidly and the daily readings with the CardioMEMS HF System can significantly increase the timeliness of physician response. Remote patient monitoring applications and technology were on the rise before COVID-19, but the pandemic provides a dramatic context for expanding their use.