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Integrating Remote Patient Monitoring to Expand Reach and Accessibility

August 11th, 2020 - By Andrew Fearnley

The healthcare industry is seeing a huge digital transformation, with technology in health going mainstream rapidly. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) technology is spearheading this digital innovation.

patient monitoring

Berg Insight estimates the total number of remotely monitored patients will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 48.9% through 2020, reaching an estimated 36.1 million patients.

Amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, connected health and RPM have gone down to become more significant than ever, since they allow physicians to monitor patients without having any direct contact with them, thus preventing the spread of the infection. RPM also keeps patients with less severe cases out of hospitals, conserving bed space for patients with critical cases. 

In this piece, we will be looking at a few steps healthcare practitioners can follow for successful integration of remote patient monitoring in their practice. But before that, let us explore: 

How RPM Aids Healthcare Practices Expand Reach and

Accessibility?

The rise in the number of healthcare consumers and the associated cost of services, procedures and treatments make it increasingly difficult for some patients to get access to the care they need. In addition, the 57 million Americans who live in rural areas face a pervasive and pressing problem; providers and practitioners are few and far between.

Resolving these challenges will require the use of digital solutions, especially RPM devices. With RPM capabilities, physicians can reach and treat more patients, providing them better access to caregivers and services since this technology virtually connects clinicians directly with relevant, real-time patient data, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of their daily rounds, office visits and routines, helping to deliver quality care.

Case Example: ChristinaCare

ChristinaCare, a two-hospital health system based out of Delaware, is planning to expand its CareVio RPM program, which has been used to provide home-based care management for patients with chronic conditions. Officials want to use that platform to provide care for not only COVID-19 patients but others with health concerns who can’t safely visit a hospital or clinic. 

This transformation has accelerated exponentially during the pandemic, because at this time, the safest place for our patients is in their home. This technology will ensure that patients receive the right care, at the right time and in the right place, dramatically lowering the risk of spreading COVID-19”, ChristianaCare President and CEO – Janice E. Nevin said in a press release.

Since the onset of the pandemic, officials have used the platform to follow up with more than 4,400 people tested for the virus, answering questions and ensuring that they have a primary care provider. The platform currently monitors some 1,500 people, two-thirds of which have had telehealth visits.

Case Example: Vivify

Another excellent example of how RPM technology is making care more accessible would be that of Vivify, a digital health platform. The company chose tablet devices for its RPM kit that pair with Bluetooth Biometric devices such as scales, blood pressure cuffs and pulse oximeters. 

Every day, patients use the Bluetooth devices, which stream biometric data to the tablet. They also answer questions related to their specific condition, or “pathway.” The solution currently includes more than 90 pathways, such as congestive heart failure (CHF), diabetes, cancer, smoking cessation and addiction recovery. Patients also use the tablets to view disease-specific educational content, video conference with clinicians and receive medication reminders.

The Vivify platform analyzes patient data and responses, looks for trends and patterns and interprets all that data for physicians via an online portal with user-friendly dashboards. This way, clinicians can easily expand their reach, monitor data in real-time and intervene before minor symptoms become major health problems.

One other company that is greatly helping streamline chronic care with its remote health monitoring and virtual health platform is – IntelliH. Being a Cloud based platform, the company is redefining remote patient care with its customized dashboards, smart alerts, powerful analytics and mobile apps. The IntelliH solution is flexible and customizable to a wide variety of business architectures, helping make care more accessible in organizations big and small.

The Benefits of Using RPM in Conjunction with EHR

Systems

easy integration

When it comes to integrating remote patient monitoring with your medical practice, the most important thing you need to consider is – how well it integrates with your electronic health record (EHR) system. EHR integration is important for workflow ease. Working with solutions that can integrate into your current EHR will make it easy to adopt and deploy across your organization.

Integrating RPM with your EHR will help you better understand how you and staff can: 

  • track data for enhanced patient outcomes, 
  • ensure patient understanding of device use so that they make more informed decisions,
  • enhance healthy communication with and engage patients in a better way,
  • keep tab of treatment schedules and ensure timely medication, 
  • help streamline clinician workflows by aiding them with time-consuming tasks such as entering data into EHR systems over and over again, and
  • conduct precise billing for the service. 

Once understood completely and experienced firsthand, these components will make your current EHR operations far more effective.

Important Steps for Successful Integration of RPM in

your Practice

1) Using RPM with a Personalized Patient Care Plan

Remote patient monitoring can help position control of your patient’s wellness directly into their hands while also keeping them informed of their plan of care at all times. RPM devices can also help your patient feel both connected to their care team and empowered, further strengthening their relationship with the provider.

Keeping these things in mind, it is extremely crucial to formulate a protocol for prioritizing which patients should be monitored to amplify patient benefit. Consider systematizing patients who are at an increased risk or have been hospitalized earlier for conditions related to diabetes, blood pressure, heart failure, or COPD.

Even though monitoring vital measurements alone can be instrumental, remote patient monitoring is most efficacious when used simultaneously with a customized patient care plan.

2) Choosing the Right RPM Technology

Discovering the right technology partner that remains mindful of your team’s technological aptitude and best suits your intended goals is the key to successful RPM integration. You must figure out whether your practice will require a partner to keep track of billable time and submit claims each month or if that can be done in-house.

You should also look at how your remote patient monitoring platform would relate to your current Electronic Health Records (EHR) software and other related technology. Based on cost and other components, you may want to contemplate what level of EHR integration you need and then narrow your search accordingly.

When it comes to remote patient monitoring, the function and quality of patient devices is as significant as the doctor-facing software platform. Integrating easy-to-use devices will ensure patient participation and support the overall success of your RPM investment. 

3) Keeping your Model Budget-Realistic

An RPM program will need new technology that frequently requires an investment ahead of time. Before jumping headfirst into the decision of implementing RPM within your practice, aptly think about whether your practice is seeing enough patients to support an RPM program. 

Some remote patient monitoring platforms demand that lease the devices or incorporate device costs into their platform fees, while others demand that you pay for patient devices up front. One best practice here would be to draw a rough estimate of your potential total annual income from RPM and then begin your search for a technology and platform that fits well into your practice’s needs and budget.

4) Leveraging Cloud Solutions for Robust Security

Cloud-based solutions are extensively benefiting healthcare today in implementing flexible cost-effective and on-demand security models. This is majorly because Cloud-based security has better monitoring and can track attacks faster than non-cloud based security solutions.

These Cloud platforms also greatly aid in storing medical images and other data such as angiograms and echocardiograms, which can then be accessed from any other location and used by physicians to provide consultation via virtual platforms. It also eradicates the need for patients to frequently visit hospitals for post-medication consultation services.

When finalizing a security solution, try looking at your organization’s needs and then choose the one that best suits them. Also, pay utmost attention to ensure that the solution you choose provides you adequate monitoring and support.

5) Staying Compliant

It is crucial that you understand all requirements and guidelines for providing as well as billing RPM services and charges associated with delivering these services. It is extremely important to stay compliant to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) at all times.

If you lack an overall understanding of how the entire usability and billing process of RPM works, choose a technology partner that can precisely monitor your billable time and help you through the claims submission process. Some technology partners offer billing and platform solutions as an all-in-one package to make the process less troublesome for organizations.

It also is important to ensure your technology partner recognizes security and other regulatory requirements inherent innate to a remote patient monitoring program. Not getting paid for time spent is substandard, however being audited for time spent incorrectly is even worse.

6) Making the Platform Interoperable

For RPM programs to be effective, patient-generated health data (PGHD) from apps, wearables, and home health devices – and the programs leveraging this data – need to be integrated into the Electronic Health Records (EHR). This lets clinicians track patients within their existing workflow, enabling care teams to step in far more quickly when necessary and making for more efficient care processes.

The benefits that come alongside the use of remote patient monitoring aren’t limited to the ongoing measurement of a pre-identified patient’s vitals between check-ups or after a procedure but can extend to those treated in the field. 

With more interoperable systems and the presence of standardized PGHD within existing clinical workflows, providers are able to utilize information alongside other clinical data. This offers a more holistic understanding of a patient’s health – and the ability for providers to act more proactively.

7) Buy In: Gaining Staff and Patient Support

One last factor to consider before you can successfully integrate an RPM program is – identifying if your practice has team members committed to figuring out the new puzzle the implementation gets along. There are no two opinions when it comes to determining whether staff buy-in and training are important for implementing and running a successful RPM program — of course, they are! Not only does this help your staff understand the logistics of RPM, but aids them in explaining the program to patients.

In addition to staff support, patient buy-in will make or break your RPM program. The last thing you want is an expensive connected device sitting unutilized in a patient’s house while not delivering any benefits.

What Lies Ahead?

There’s a plethora of advantages that come alongside the implementation of a remote patient monitoring system. The application primarily depends on the disease and parameters that need to be monitored.

When it comes to your practice, make sure you only plan on integrating an RPM program within your practice if your model meets the considerations mentioned above. That way, not only will it work wonders for you, but for your patients as well. 


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