Remote Monitoring of Personal Telehealth Data

Send your personal health data for feedback

Personal telehealth begins with using a sensor device to record and track data about health parameters. Many of the available devices are wearable or portable while others are stationary. It’s perfectly fine to keep the data to yourself (self-monitoring), but some people also find it helpful to send the data to another person, organization, or system in order to receive feedback. This is the essence of personal telehealth.

The first step is that the sensor collects the data. For example, a glucometer measures blood sugar, or an accelerometer measures physical activity. Unless the sensor has built-in capability to transmit data remotely, it needs to connect to a data aggregator, such as a smartphone app, website, or local software program on a computer. These aggregators may calculate time trends or organize the data in another fashion before sending it on to the ultimate destination. The following list describes the people, organizations, and systems that could receive health data sent from your personal devices. 

  • Health care providers are accustomed to receiving faxes or snail mail from their patients with blood sugar, blood pressure, weight, and other parameters measured at home. This is helpful for patients with chronic disease or those going through transitions of care (e.g. from the hospital to the outpatient office). Now that personal telehealth devices can send data to electronic health record (EHR), then health care providers can view the information in the context you entire medical history. However, just because a technology exists to measure and track a health parameter, it doesn’t mean that physicians can handle the flood of information. Creating new devices is relatively easy compared to figuring out how to manage the information sent by those devices. Considering the number of people who want to send personal health data to their physicians, there are relatively few physicians who have the time or ability to view the data and send meaningful feedback. Other health professionals (e.g. nurses, medical assistants, dietitians, coaches) will need to play a major role in monitoring personal telehealth data. Automated response systems could be appropriate for straightforward interactions.
  • Disease management service: A health care organization can contract with a 3rd party vendor that would receive and respond to data from personal health sensors.
  • Personal health record: These online portals can display data collected by your own personal sensors alongside data extracted from the EHR, such as lab or x-ray results.
  • Online communities may receive data from their member's physical activity tracking devices. For example, the Spark activity tracker integrates with, a weight loss and fitness community.
  • Some health and fitness coaches have online portals to view data transmitted by their clients.
  • Social network contacts: Many of us like to share our diet and exercise information with friends and family. Smartphone apps and websites also encourage us to share information with the collective network of users (i.e. mostly strangers) for purposes of friendly competition.

You'll gain the most benefit from personal telehealth if the people who ultimately view your personal health data respond with feedback, advice, or encouragement. For example, a nurse who notices that your blood pressure readings have been very high over the past week may give you a call to find out what may be causing the problem. 


Metron: Intelligent Health Data Aggregation and Recommendation. Accessed on October 28, 2014.

Continue Reading