Remote patient monitoring grows in popularity, but headaches emerge

Doctors and executives see the value in the practice, but some say there are issues with workflows and reimbursement, a new survey finds.

More medical practices are using remote patient monitoring, and it appears the approach is only going to gain in popularity in the near future.

More than half of medical practices (57%) use remote physiological technology to virtually monitor patients’ vital signs at home, according to a new survey by Sage Growth Partners.

In addition, 76% of the practices responding said they plan to use remote patient monitoring in the next two years. Roughly a quarter (24%) said they have no plans to use remote patient monitoring.

The survey gathered responses from 100 doctors, executives, and administrators. Rhythm Management Group, which makes remote patient monitoring products, commissioned the survey.

Johanna Georgilas, vice president of remote physiological monitoring for Rhythm Management Group, said she "was actually a little surprised" at how many medical practices are using remote monitoring systems.

While many are seeing the value of remote monitoring, the survey also revealed some practices managing their own remote programs are having headaches as they employ the technology into their businesses.

Some respondents said they were using too much staff time to monitor the program, the survey found. More than half (55%) of practices said they were using 3 to 5 employees to manage remote patient monitoring, while an additional 28% said they had 6 or more staff members working on it.

Many practices also said they were struggling with reimbursement. A solid majority (56%) said they were receiving less than half of the eligible reimbursement for remote patient monitoring services.

Practices are also struggling to maintain patient engagement with remote physiological monitoring. More than half (58%) of the patients enrolled in remote programs are connected or transmitting readings less than 50% of the time.

Georgilas said patient adherence "is definitely one of the challenges." Just as some patients don't always follow their instructions on medication, some don't stay connected with remote patient monitoring.

“A lot of effort is required to ensure patients are adherent," she said. “They don’t always see that benefit up front and people have things going on in their lives”

Some practices are having trouble coaxing patients into participating in remote monitoring. Six out of 10 practices said less than half of their patients who would benefit from remote patient monitoring services have actually agreed to participate.

Still, some patients see the benefit of remote monitoring.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the participating practices said remote monitoring led to gains in patient satisfaction. About two out of three practices (64%) said they saw more staff satisfaction with remote patient monitoring.

The vast majority of the participating practices (92%) said remote patient monitoring is important to ensuring high quality healthcare. About four in five practices (79%) said remote monitoring had a positive impact in caring for patients, while 66% of respondents said it led to improved patient outcomes.

Even with the headaches of reimbursement, a majority of practices (60%) said they were seeing a good return on their investment.

Among those using remote patient monitoring systems, two-thirds of those are doing it in house, while the rest have contracted with a third-party provider.

The survey was conducted between Nov. 29, 2021 and Jan. 10, 2022. About two-thirds of the respondents came from independent practices, while one-third came from hospital-owned or hospital-affiliated practices.