Written by: Cheryl Reifsnyder, PhD
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a type of healthcare delivery that uses home-based or mobile monitoring devices to collect patient data in a non-clinical setting and transmit that data to healthcare providers for assessment and instructions. RPM allows patients to share data and receive care assessments between provider visits.
RPM has become a critical option since it’s estimated that 50% of the U.S. population has a chronic disease and that caring for that 50% accounts for 86% of the nation’s healthcare costs. In addition, the U.S. population is getting older and unhealthier. In the next decade, there will be more older adults than children and 2 out of 5 of these older adults will have 3 or more chronic conditions. Chronic medical and mental health conditions are responsible for 7 out of 10 of the leading causes of death in the United States. RPM, though, augments in-person care and improves chronic care management.
RPM has become more popular in the past few years due to the COVID- 19 pandemic and the shift to try to find ways to care for patients outside of the office. This increase has shown that RPM has benefits beyond caring for patients with chronic conditions. This article looks at the benefits you can gain from using RPM devices today. We also look at how to choose the best RPM devices to fit your practice’s needs.
RPM enables real-time understanding of a patient’s disease state, making it easier to make proactive clinical decisions for managing their health condition. Equipping your patients with an RPM device enables you to monitor their symptoms more frequently, which can be an essential benefit for patients with certain conditions. For instance, weight gain is often a key indicator of worsening congestive heart failure (CHF)—making the use of RPM to track a CHF patient’s weight a valuable tool.
Access to patients’ daily data can also signal how effective their current treatment is and enable you to make earlier treatment adjustments. For instance, monitoring blood glucose can be extremely important for maintaining the health of patients with diabetes type 1 or type 2. Patients may not experience symptoms until they are hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic. Without blood glucose monitoring, this can lead to life-threatening conditions when these patients go untreated.
Patients’ access to daily health data also encourages them to take responsibility for their conditions and identify behavior trends affecting their symptoms. For instance, an RPM glucometer helps both patients and providers better understand how external factors—such as medication, diet, exercise, stress, and illness—influence their blood sugar and other diabetic symptoms. Similarly, RPM scales expose patients regularly to their weight data. This can encourage them to influence their weight by changing their diet and behavior.
When patients engage with their health daily through RPM devices, it helps them better understand their health and improves the likelihood of positive health outcomes.
Leading RPM solutions go beyond collecting health data to share health education materials and provide timely nudges to encourage patient self-care. An RPM device can provide regular opportunities to improve patient understanding of their condition, symptoms, and treatment. The best solutions maximize patient engagement by working to overcome problems such as language, literacy, cognitive, and technology barriers.
RPM can help to control rising healthcare costs by shifting patient care away from the hospital or doctor’s office to the patient’s home. In addition, they help to control the cost of patients’ care by helping to control patients’ medical conditions. When patients engage with RPM, they often decrease or delay disease progression, decreasing the need for expensive treatments. Patients have fewer emergency room visits, fewer hospitalizations, and, when hospital stays are required, shorter hospital stays because an RPM can help with monitoring the patient’s condition at home upon discharge. RPM also helps provide better healthcare for patients in rural areas.
To select which RPM device would benefit your practice, you must discover your patients’ needs. Solicit feedback from your staff to identify the most significant pain points and greatest opportunities. Survey patients as well, making sure to collect responses that reflect the diversity of your patient population.
Once you’ve identified areas of need, prioritize these pain points or opportunities based on:
Severity of need
Strategic goals of your organization
Finally, select a problem that, if solved, will provide the greatest value to your organization’s staff and patients.
For instance, the need for monitoring blood pressure using RPM is apparent. High blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for 516,955 people in the United States in 2019. Nearly half (47%) of adults in the United States have hypertension or are taking medication for it; of those, only about 1 in 4 (24%) have their condition under control. Hypertension has few or no symptoms so is commonly undertreated, which can lead to life-threatening complications. It can also be challenging to diagnose because many patients experience elevated blood pressure in clinical settings.
However, RPM enables frequent blood pressure monitoring over more extended periods, yielding more accurate measurements—and a more accurate assessment of any associated health risks. It also avoids artifacts where the patient’s measurement is higher or lower in the office.
Whatever type of RPM devices you select, they need to be able to synchronize data with your electronic health record (EHR) system. Veradigm EHR supports integration with RPM devices via a bi-directional integration with integration-enabled virtual care management software. When software integrates with cellular-enabled RPM devices to monitor patient data, biometric readings are loaded directly into patients’ charts, giving providers the data, they need where they need it.
Contact us today to see how Veradigm EHR can support integration with RPM devices to take your patient care to the next level.