Remote patient monitoring helps healthcare providers to remain aware of their patient health conditions and treat them remotely via digital devices. RPM gives additional focus to health conditions that need extra attention from healthcare experts. Today, healthcare providers are facing lots of challenges while implementing RPM services. So to be successful with the process, the providers need to follow these five important steps.
Healthcare organizations should involve two groups in RPM planning. The first is the clinical group, which must define the patient population that will be monitored and the problem it’s trying to solve with remote patient monitoring. This group also must determine how monitoring will be conducted; for instance, via devices such as glucose or heart monitors, or by questionnaires that can be administered through secure email or a patient portal.
The other group is the IT team. Often, clinicians don’t realize that their plans for RPM may face technical limitations. They also might not have extensive experience with implementing technology, especially solutions that are located in a patient’s home, such as wearable devices. It’s critical to have a partnership between IT and clinical stakeholders from the very beginning. RPM planning should first consider the clinical problem the team is trying to solve, then identify the monitoring tools needed to accomplish this goal.
The most important thing to communicate about RPM is why you’re doing it. Both the staff and patients need to believe in what you’re doing; otherwise, participation will quickly fade. Tailor communication toward each group. Both clinicians and patients must understand the training they receive: Patients must demonstrate that they can submit their weight electronically; if they can’t, they need further training. Clinicians must be able to determine which patients are having problems.
When you’re running an RPM program, you also must ensure the technology works. For example, if you send a patient home with a scale that depends on internet access, but the patient doesn’t have the internet at home, you need to find a way to provide it, such as through a cellular device. Ultimately, ensure you have processes for emergencies. If a patient reports an abrupt, massive weight increase or alarming psychiatric symptoms, near real-time response expectations must be clear for all stakeholders.
Hospitals have several options for managing RPM devices. Some manage the entire process in-house: The provider buys and configures the devices so they feed patient data to the electronic health record. Some hire companies to handle the entire RPM process, including case management. Each hospital should choose the approach that works best for its patients and staff.
In making this decision, you need to understand where you have the necessary expertise and bandwidth. Devices may break or malfunction, and you can’t just leave patients to troubleshoot on their own or they’ll abandon the endeavor. Decide what you’re willing to take on and what’s cost-effective.
Keep it as simple as you can and build success incrementally. One of the most effective kinds of RPM is a phone call. For example, our health systems use structured discharge phone calls with the patient, which can be made by staff members or by an automated phone system.
Simple RPM approaches exist for several diseases. CHF is one of them because patient monitoring is straightforward; it typically involves having patients use a scale to record their weight. If the weight starts to increase, you can quickly manage the situation before problems occur. Diabetes is another good example; if you monitor a patient’s blood sugar, it’s easy to intervene.
The issues you monitor should be those you can address with an action such as changing a patient’s medication or increasing the dosage.
Finally, determine how to measure success. A process-oriented outcome may increase the number of patients participating in an RPM program. You can evaluate patient outcomes and engagement and observe impacts on satisfaction, financial and operational measures. Having these metrics will allow your practice to determine whether to expand the remote patient monitoring program to more patients or rework the programs to perform better. If ready for expansion, the data will help justify continued or expanded funding.
In the current healthcare landscape, adding remote patient monitoring and its related technologies like telehealth may prove to be your base start to promote quality of care. Implementing RPM is not just an easy process. By understanding these effective steps, CapMinds will help your practice to deliver a meaningful program for your patient population.
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