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To date, the focus of RPM has been on the technology itself and its increasing ease of use. The conversation now needs to shift to creating a patient-centric healthcare experience enabled by RPM technology.
The COVID-19 pandemic fueled a boom in the telehealth industry as patients sought to avoid trips to the emergency room, healthcare clinic or doctor’s office. Technology solutions like remote patient monitoring (RPM) have come to the forefront, providing the freedom for patients to receive care remotely—and consistently. Because RPM solutions monitor patients and track vital statistics such as blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and others both in real-time and over time, they have helped turn episodic care into preventive care for patients with chronic conditions.
To date, the focus of RPM has been on the technology itself and its increasing ease of use. The conversation now needs to shift to creating a patient-centric healthcare experience enabled by RPM technology, and the benefits for healthcare companies that deploy RPM solutions.
Creating a Patient-Centric Experience
Replacing humans with technology in healthcare may seem counterintuitive to creating that patient-centric experience, yet in many cases, the patient has access to better care because of technology like RPM. RPM solutions can provide additional support between office visits with direct access to a care team member for quick intervention as needed. For patients, this means care may be received without leaving their homes.
With RPM today, healthcare providers and clinicians have access to real-time recordings of vital signs. In contrast, they previously relied on patients going to the doctor’s office, hospital or, while at home, using either store-bought devices or complicated equipment often used by hospitals. Now, RPM solutions are simplified, with devices offering support right out of the box. Direct communications with healthcare providers via voice or video can happen with a simple touch of a button. RPM also gives a better patient snapshot over time and allows the provider to see trends with the patient’s health.
Also, with RPM, patients have peace of mind knowing that they have access to the care team 24/7 instead of calling their doctor’s office and hoping for a quick callback from the physician on call, who may or may not be familiar with their case. Patients using RPM can build a relationship with their clinical care team, which helps build trust. Since the care teams are familiar with a patient’s diagnosis and the provider’s care plan, they can react quickly when patients have an issue.
Having direct access for quick intervention can decrease emergency room/hospital admissions, increase patient compliance and satisfaction, and close gaps in healthcare. Overall, RPM solutions provide a better quality of life for patients that results in higher patient and provider satisfaction.
Understanding Provider Benefits
By consistently collaborating and engaging with patients in the decision-making process, health providers can make better decisions regarding a patient’s health.Additionally, providers now have access to longer data sets for an overall better picture than just a single report of a vital sign episode, such as high blood pressure.
But the benefits go deeper than building a relationship with the patient and delivering patient-centric care. Practices can experience a decrease in staff workload and patient incoming calls with RPM while increasing visits remotely.
In a comprehensive RPM program, providers can look at healthcare expenses and understand which patients are high utilizers. These might be patients missing appointments, visiting the emergency room frequently, and experiencing high rates of condition exacerbations with repeated hospitalizations. Providers who develop solid RPM protocols with experienced clinical staff will have a successful RPM care management program in an environment that focuses on service fees. A shift in utilizing RPM as value-based care will enable providers to provide a higher level of care and additional revenue to support the practice.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has loosened the requirements for providing RPM, which has helped providers launch their programs to support their patients with all care management-type services. By doing this, providers can reach more patients, which increases the dollar value of the program.
Healthcareexecutives should take a leading role to assist network providers with understanding the value of RPM as part of a patient care management solution. Executives and physician practices should review the types of Medicare patient care management programs available and perform due diligence on what types of programs and services are offered by care management companies as part of a complete solution. Full turnkey, patient outcome-driven care management programs will not only bring additional revenue but can also:
With RPM solutions, providers are improving patients’ health awareness, which helps patients take more ownership over their health. By providing a solid RPM clinical program that includes care management services such as direct access to the patient’s care team, assistance with medication management, community resource support and disease education, patients experience better health outcomes and decreased hospital admissions and ER visits, which contributes to a better quality of life.
Having a solid care management support team to provide the RPM program is important. Providing patients with direct access to their care team members who can assist them with navigating the healthcare system gives patients peace of mind and a more patient-centric experience, decreasing condition exacerbations and lowering overall healthcare costs. Comprehensive RPM programs are a win for both patients and providers.
Sheila Whatley, is vice president of Clinical Operations at Anelto. She is a chronic care management (CCM) and compliance subject matter expert with over 20 years of healthcare operations experience, including clinical informatics and healthcare software development. She has more than a decade of consulting experience in emerging industries and more than 24 years’ experience as a nursing provider.