How Patients and Providers Can Benefit from Remote Patient Monitoring Solutions

10.05.2018
8 min.
title

They say that life is what happens to us while we are making other plans, which hugely correlates with the current state of healthcare—there is the underlying process behind every particular care point that seems to be beyond control. Patients are under supervision in the clinical setting, but providers have no idea about their health status changes prior and after each care delivery cycle.

The blind spots in care majorly contribute to readmission rates, emergency department overuse, and associated healthcare costs.

Thankfully, many healthcare software development companies aspire to pluck all the unknowns from the care delivery equation with remote patient monitoring solutions or RPM. Notably, they do find support among clinical stakeholders. The proof is that the global RPM market by device is expected to skyrocket to $32.435 million by 2023 at a 6.2% CAGR.

In this article, we will elicit the incentives that drive remote patient monitoring adoption among patients and providers to define the reasoning under hopping on the RPM bandwagon.

RPM’s credo and application in healthcare

The main goal of introducing remote patient monitoring is to track a patient’s well-being outside of the hospital and help them maintain control over conditions while ensuring timely interventions from providers and avoiding emergencies. RPM is especially necessary for older and disabled patients, allowing them to live at home and stay independent as long as possible without feeling abandoned or bound to moving into nursing facilities. As a result, RPM contributes to reducing the number of hospitalizations and readmissions as well as the length of stay.

To achieve all of the above, remote patient monitoring uses an array of technologies that vary according to a particular condition and metrics that are tracked. However, there is a general architecture for each solution that comprises a set of following elements:

  • Sensors are placed on wearable and portable medical devices to measure a patient’s vitals (blood pressure, weight, temperature, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, sleep, ECG and more).
  • Local data storage stores the data acquired from sensors on the patient’s side and communicates with the centralized repository on the provider’s side.
  • Centralized repository aggregates and stores the data from different sources, such as EHR, patient devices, and analytic systems.
  • Data analysis software derives valuable insights from a centralized repository and pushes alerts to providers, caregivers, and patients in case of need.

Apart from the basic architecture, two more elements are common for RPM solutions:

  • mHealth applications that can collect patient-generated health data or PGHD that patients record manually—blood glucose levels, nutrition, mood, pain levels, etc. Apps can also sync with wearable and portable medical devices to create a full picture of patient health status, store the data, and send it to the provider’s centralized repository.
  • Diagnostic software that can come in various shapes, allowing clinicians to evaluate general wellbeing of relatively healthy patients via PGHD patterns, make educated guesses on a diagnosis based on symptoms, and offer data-driven treatment recommendations.

The diversity of RPM use

Integrated remote monitoring systems can have multiple applications, but a few of them are considered the most promising.

Managing diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic condition that can lead to severe complications if not managed well. Diabetes patients continuously experience peaks and troughs in their blood glucose levels, which should be regularly balanced to avoid hyper- and hypoglycemia. Also, patients need to be aware of their blood pressure, temperature, and weight.

RPM solutions allow patients with diabetes to stay aware of their health status, maintain balanced blood glucose levels, and manage their condition better while being connected to providers and getting alerts if some of the measurements are off the normal readings.

Avoiding heart failure

CDC states that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. That’s why healthcare organizations put major effort into reducing the number of deaths caused by heart problems. RPM allows decreasing the risk of heart failure in patients prone to this condition with the help of cardiac resynchronization devices and smart pacemakers that can send patient health information to the central repository. This information can be analyzed to derive patterns and help providers to keep patients stable, improving their life quality and decreasing overall mortality rate.

Preventing dementia and falls

With age, individuals get at risk of developing dementia. Remote patient monitoring solutions help older adults stay safe and visible to their caregivers. They use sensors on walkers and canes that can locate and track an individual’s whereabouts via GPS, Wi-Fi, or radio frequency. In case the person falls or gets lost, sensors will send alerts to their caregivers defining their exact location and preventing an older adult from wandering off completely.

The good thing here is that senior citizens can stay more independent from their caregivers, taking walks whenever they feel like it and still being under the supervision.

Summing up on patient benefits from RPM

As remote patient monitoring systems are far from reaching their ultimate potential yet, further innovations will bring more and more advantages for patients that indulge in health tracking solutions. Still, these three perks will most likely stay the major reasons to provide patients with RPM solutions.

Better access to medical assistance

Getting to a doctor’s office for routine check-ups can be a difficult process because patients have to find time to travel to the doctor’s office, wait in a crowded hospital setting, and then drive home. This is the easiest scenario, getting much harder for elder or disabled patients as well as for those living in rural areas. Sometimes, a check-up is just confirming that a patient is feeling okay and stays on the right track for faster recovery, so why all this trouble for just a 5-minute chat?

RPM solutions help patients to stay connected with their care team at all times in the comfort of their homes without the need to travel into the facility in routine cases, which cuts on time, cost, and transportation.

Early detection and timely intervention

Remote patient monitoring can help patients maintain balanced health status at every point of care cycle—from arising concern to preliminary diagnosis to post-discharge recovery or ambulatory treatment. Continued remote supervision narrows down possible diagnoses, ensures control over the patient response to medication, and elicits disturbing patterns prior to dire health deterioration.

Because of its proactive nature, RPM allocates way more time for providers to maneuver and make well-considered decisions that will positively influence patient health outcomes both in the short and in the long run.

Increased patient engagement

The established connection between a patient and their care team improves patient engagement rates on several levels. Individuals feel like they have greater control over their health by complying with the treatment plan and getting reminders to keep themselves on the right track. In the meantime, patients get informed advice and feedback on collected vitals, feeling supported along the way.

RPM both disciplines and backs patients up, making them more confident in successful recovery and assured 24/7 care.

RPM’s value on the provider’s side

First things first, providers will adopt remote patient monitoring sooner or later if the value-based care environment is to be evolving. But making a commitment to RPM requires a certain investment of time, budget, and effort. No one wants to jump on a fad train like it sometimes happens in healthcare technologies. Therefore, let’s run through a few particular benefits of RMP for providers.

Optimized operational efficiency and planning

Medical emergencies put a huge burden on healthcare organizations, overloading emergency departments, shaking up utilization management plans, and forcing clinical staff to overwork regularly. Of course, some health issues are sudden—like breaking a leg, but, according to one of the recent studies, most patients treated in an ED are recurrent.

This means that providers can reduce ED loads by adopting an emergency-preventing approach, which RPM is all about. Prevention and real-time health tracking keep barely issues from bursting into critical cases, keeping clinical settings organized.

Reduced costs and maximized reimbursements

In the perfect world, every healthcare organization manages to keep costs low, provide high-quality care, and receive ceiling reimbursements doing practically nothing new. While perfection is impossible, providers can eliminate out-of-control expenses and achieve peak performance with the help of remote patient monitoring solutions.

The key is building a network that interlinks providers, payers, and patients, making care transparent and straightforward. RPMs gather each party of the care cycle and bring them to the informed side, where everyone knows how the patient is doing and what they need right now. This makes communication instantaneous and results in preventing crises as well as reducing hospitalizations and readmissions. When critical issues are controlled, costs go down while reimbursements go up.

Improved HEDIS scores

The Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) is a tool that more than 90 percent of U.S. health plans use to evaluate performance and service quality. HEDIS comprises 94 measures in 7 care domains and addresses multiple chronic conditions, also allowing patients to take surveys and identify the levels of satisfaction with care delivery, claims processing, and customer service.

By introducing remote patient monitoring, health systems can increase their HEDIS quality score, influence their ranking, and get more incentives from both health plans and government payers.

Remote patient monitoring is the present, not the future

Those providers who aren’t yet planning on introducing RPM into their workflows might miss up on gaining a substantial advantage in value-based care race. It is highly unlikely that the huge wheel of healthcare will somehow turn back to the fee-for-service model scraping out Meaningful Use on the way.

With the emerging and evolving technologies in healthcare, such as precision medicine, IoT, augmented reality, blockchain, and others, the message is clear—the patient becomes the center point of care. RPM is not the only one, so there’s no turning back from equipping patients with the power to control care delivery. Instead, providers should put more effort into accelerating the transition to this patient-focused realm, adopt the customer-centric approach from retail companies, and reign the acquired niche. Winning patient loyalty now means safeguarding relevance for years to come.

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