Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring for your independent practice
In the first article in our Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) blog series, we examined how the COVID-19 pandemic has led providers to extend the practice of telemedicine beyond audio and video consultations to include RPM. RPM, the use of technology to capture and record patients’ physiological data as a tool for patient care, allows physicians to monitor patients’ health after they leave the hospital or medical practice. Although RPM technology has been available for years, the need for ways to care for patients at a distance during the pandemic led to its increased use.
As RPM has become more widely accepted, more of its advantages have come to light. In this article, we discuss the many benefits of RPM for patients and clinicians.
The many benefits of RPM
RPM differs from other telehealth delivery methods because it does not require interactive audio-video and virtual visits, only technology that can collect, transmit, and interpret physiologic data. RPM offers providers a continuous stream of real-time health data with which to monitor patients’ conditions. As the use of RPM has become more widespread, so have the benefits for patients and clinicians.
Extends physician reach
One obvious benefit of RPM is that it extends the reach of physicians, enabling them to track their patients’ progress after they leave the medical office. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, RPM has enabled physicians to monitor patients with chronic conditions from a distance, keeping them out of the healthcare environment and limiting their potential exposure to the virus. This is especially important because research has shown that people with these conditions are at greatest risk of developing severe COVID symptoms or complications.
Promotes improved care for uninsured, rural, and minority patients
Minority communities face numerous barriers to healthcare. People of color are less likely to have a regular source of healthcare and are less likely to have had a visit with a healthcare provider within the past twelve months. They are also less likely to be insured.
Rural residents deal with multiple barriers to accessing adequate medical care as well, including lower average income, lack of insurance coverage, and fewer healthcare providers in their geographic area. At the same time, both minority communities and rural residents have much higher rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Combine the increased rate of chronic conditions with COVID-19, and the result has been higher rates of infection and death from COVID-19 among both minorities and rural residents.
RPM provides a way for providers to bridge the gap, making it easier to enable all patients to receive the continuous care their conditions may require.
Improves patient quality of life
RPM can enable physicians to provide their patients with chronic conditions with subtle reminders to help manage their conditions, such as reminders about diet and getting sufficient exercise. The ongoing coaching can help patients to improve their health, which increases their overall quality of life.
RPM can improve patient quality of life in other ways, as well. For instance, it can make it possible for an elderly patient or a patient with mobility issues to engage in daily activities without the caretaker support they would otherwise require—which, in turn, can reduce the length of hospital stays and reduce the number of hospitalizations and readmissions for patients. Similarly, RPM can help older and disabled patients to spend a longer time living at home rather than moving into skilled nursing facilities.
Improves patient outcomes
Physicians can use RPM to improve care management for patients when they are outside the office, especially patients with chronic conditions and patients who have recently been discharged from the hospital. By tracking key health metrics for patients, providers can use this information to optimize patients’ care. It also enables them to intervene in patients’ disease management when the data are concerning.
Decreases healthcare costs
RPM has a large potential for creating savings by improving patient outcomes because it helps to prevent more severe—and therefore more costly—health outcomes.
RPM also decrease costs by helping to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, readmissions, and ER visits. It does so by creating better communication between patients and providers. Patients without RPM might head to the ER in response to symptoms that, with RPM, can be diagnosed and addressed without a hospital visit.
For example, the Pittsburgh health system created an RPM platform for use with a spectrum of conditions, from heart disease to a post-discharge smoking cessation program. They used two main technologies to provide RPM: a tablet and patients’ mobile phones. They provided patient care through survey questions, educational videos, scales, BP cuffs, pulse oximeters, and live video visits.
The results: Medicare members enrolled in the program were 76% less likely to be readmitted to the hospital. At the same time, patient satisfaction was over 90%. Patient compliance for the same time period was over 90% as well.
Improved patient satisfaction
RPM gives providers both more opportunities to collaborate with patients to improve their health. This helps improve the relationship between patient and provider, because the patient feels the provider is checking in on them. It also promotes increased patient engagement in their healthcare. RPM provides patients with access to their own health data, so they can better understand the impact of their treatment and can take action in response to their own medical needs. Increased patient engagement is associated with improved health outcomes.
These factors combine to help increase patient satisfaction.
The expanding field of RPM
In the past year, RPM has become more commonly used by providers and more accepted by payers. At the same time, patients are becoming more accepting of RPM use. In one survey of 100 patients age forty and older:
- 64% reported they would be willing to use an RPM device if it could reduce the number of in-person visits to the doctor or hospital required of them
- Less than 55% reported that they would be willing to use an RPM device even if it did not reduce the number of required doctor or hospital visits
By the end of 2022, experts predict that 45.1 million U.S. patients will use RPM tools—making it critical for every practice to be able to integrate with RPM technology.
Does your current EHR integrate with RPM systems?
Practice Fusion supports RPM integrations for your practice. The services provided by different RPM providers may vary, so please coordinate directly with your RPM service provider for details on their offerings.*
Contact us to learn how Practice Fusion can help you incorporate RPM into your telemedicine practice and bring better care to your patients.
- Note: Practice Fusion is financially compensated by these RPM service providers.