Remote patient monitoring, or RPM, is an extremely effective aspect of telehealth medicine. However, those who have not yet implemented this program into their practice may have several questions about the effects and benefits of RPM. If you have questions about remote patient monitoring, find answers in the complete guide to RPM!
What Is RPM?
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a category of telehealth medicine that works to effectively manage patients and monitor their conditions without having to schedule in-person appointments.
Digital technology is used to analyze and record data related to patient health. That information is then sent to doctors and other healthcare professionals so that it can be monitored. This allows for consistent tracking of health even after in-person appointments have ended, allowing for a greater likelihood of catching potentially harmful changes in patient outcomes.
While RPM is effective and offers several benefits to those who use it, it is important to understand how it differs from other similar terms, such as telehealth.
RPM Vs Telehealth
Remote patient monitoring is similar to telehealth, but with one key difference. RPM is actually a subcategory of telehealth. Addressing the differences between telehealth and RPM, telehealth includes technologies like telephones, fax machines, email, and RPM devices. These technologies are used to collect and transfer relevant patient data with healthcare professionals who can then monitor their patient’s progress.
The primary difference between RPM and telehealth is that RPM uses devices for direct communication between patients and healthcare professionals.
The Benefits Of RPM
Remote patient monitoring offers several benefits for healthcare practices. However, these benefits aren’t limited to facilities as patients can enjoy the benefits of RPM too.
RPM provides patients better access to their healthcare providers as well as encourages them to be more active and responsible regarding their health. This type of patient-provider relationship is necessary for the success of a value-based system.
The healthcare industry as a whole has been largely impacted by the effects of COVID-19. Over the last year, COVID cases have surged, but non-essential appointments have decreased dramatically. This is due in part to the patient’s fear of coming in contact with COVID and contracting the virus.
Patients have canceled their non-essential appointments in order to avoid going near healthcare facilities where they feel they will be in close proximity to several people who are potentially infected with COVID and therefore may get them sick.
While these cancelations may be understandable, they have impacted the healthcare industry as patients feel safe accessibility to their healthcare providers is no longer possible.
RPM alleviates these concerns by providing a safer option for patients to meet with their physicians who are now able to treat patients from a distance. This limits the risk of COVID-19 exposure and has enabled more patients to make and keep appointments. The accessibility that RPM offers has allowed for the scheduling and keeping of more appointments.
Aside from being more accessible, RPM is also more affordable as the distance reduces the number of expenses to healthcare providers. Typically, in-person visits to a clinic or other healthcare facility mean the use of supplies. Medical supplies like gloves, sanitizers, and cotton swabs no longer need to be used with RPM. Since the cost of these items can add up over time, healthcare facilities save more money, improving their cost/gain ratio. This makes RPM more affordable in the long run.
Another benefit of RPM applies directly to the patient. RPM offers quality care because of its ability to help doctors consistently monitor their patient’s progress. As health results and numbers are communicated with healthcare professionals, patients can trust that any potential issues will be found and addressed immediately.
While this requires some level of patient responsibility, it does increase the overall quality of the care they will receive. For example, one study found that daily spirometry may be of value for detecting the progression of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.
RPM requires and thrives on patient engagement. In order for RPM to work, they must take responsibility and communicate their data with their healthcare professionals. Be sure to take time to explain to your patients the important role they have in their healthcare.
Communication between patients and physicians is the lifeblood of RPM. Without effective communication, patients can’t be monitored. This is especially important when patients are dealing with health problems such as asthma, where daily spirometry may catch potentially devastating issues before they arise.
For patients to effectively communicate their health results with their healthcare providers, they must be consistent in their daily tests. Results like blood pressure, heart rate, and spirometry tests, as well as actions like taking medicine on time, tracking numbers and data on a daily basis, patients must understand the importance of their role and how crucial it is that they communicate relevant data with the healthcare provider.
Another benefit of RPM is the financial reimbursements that clinics can receive for implementing this program. As previously mentioned, COVID-19 has largely impacted the healthcare industry worldwide as appointments are canceled and COVID cases surge. This has led to a poor financial state for many healthcare facilities.
This impact has been noted and through the end of 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have allotted healthcare clinics to provide RPM for new patients rather than only pre-existing ones, limiting the number of in-person visits.
Additionally, reimbursements are being offered from healthcare facilities that are implementing RPM. These reimbursements for patients on Medicare can amount up to an average of $1,470 per patient per year, offering much-needed financial relief to clinics.
How To Implement RPM
Many clinics are looking to implement RPM, and if you’re one of them, you may be wondering how to go about doing so. Typically, RPM programs originate from an initiative where the primary goal is to ease the clinical burden on medical staff by using a “virtual medical office”.
While starting an RPM program requires patience and a willingness to learn as you go, there are a few helpful tips that will help you implement this program into your own healthcare facility.
Consider Patient Needs
When implementing RPM, you must consider your patient’s needs. Depending on your chosen field, you will need to meet the different needs of different patients. For example, Aluna specializes in asthma and monitoring the strength of a patient’s lungs. Therefore, we have built our entire practice around that chosen area. RPM will look slightly different for other areas of medicine. Consider your patients and what their needs will be.
Evaluate Your Practice
Once you have determined the needs of your patients, evaluate whether or not your practice is capable of meeting those needs. In order to successfully implement RPM, you will need to be able to provide the necessary care for those you monitor.
Ensure that your team is equipped with the knowledge and tools to monitor and treat patients as you receive their data through RPM. While this may require more time and training upfront, it will more than pay off in the long run as you are able to treat more patients.
Select A Software
An important factor to consider when implementing RPM is the technology you will use. RPM relies on the effective communication of data between patients and healthcare workers. Therefore it is imperative that the technology in use can be relied upon to be accurate. Technology that is faulty or inaccurate may provide inaccurate results that can skew the response of a medical professional, and greatly affect the quality of care a patient receives.
In order for RPM to be effective, you must make sure you implement the use of reliable technology that can be trusted. This will help avoid misdiagnosis or ineffective prescriptions. Depending on your chosen field of medicine, the software may be different. Be sure to research which technology will be most effective for your and your practice.
Remote patient monitoring is a program that will be as effective as you want to make it. Training your team to monitor patients from afar will help your practice take on more patients at a reduced cost. Make sure that you are prepared and ready for RPM by taking time to fully understand what it is, and how you can implement it into your practice.