Many people with one or more chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension have a hard time managing their health. They need more support than their doctor can provide in a routine office visit. Even getting an appointment can be hard because in some communities these specialists are in short supply. And then there’s the cost, time and effort of getting to the office and waiting for their turn to be seen. When travel is a problem, patients miss appointments.
The Office Visit May Not Be Enough
At the office, their vitals are taken. But that represents just one data point in time – what is happening between visits? Doctors have to rely on patients to:
- Remember recent readings,
- Bring along a paper record of readings they took at home, or
- Bring in their own monitor and hope the staff can find the correct cord to connect and download its data.
For some patients with chronic diseases, office visits are just not enough to keep them stable and out of the Emergency Room. They may need the convenience and oversight telehealth can provide in the form of Remote Patient Monitoring, or RPM.
RPM Is Suitable For Chronic Conditions, Post-Op and More
Remote patient monitoring is a type of virtual care. It is an excellent solution for a wide variety of circumstances. It’s good for monitoring people with chronic illnesses but is also used to monitor people who:
- Have been released home from the hospital after surgery,
- Are in treatment for an opioid dependency, or
- Have temporary conditions such as woman with an at-risk pregnancy.
Monitoring Kits Can Be Tailored To The Need
To put a patient on remote patient monitoring, the physician orders a kit of monitoring devices that match the patient’s needs. For example, a hypertension kit would include a blood pressure monitor, scale and thermometer to measure blood pressure, heart rate, weight and temperature. Some kits contain a proprietary modem or tablet for electronically delivering readings to a remote dashboard. Other vendors take a “bring your own device” approach and provide a web link or an application that can be uploaded to any smartphone, tablet or laptop.
Readings and Alerts Strengthen the Care Connection
Adding a telehealth solution like RPM to a care plan increases communication between the patient and the provider. The individual (or caregiver) uses the devices in the kit to take biometric readings as directed. This may be multiple times a day, daily, weekly or even as needed. The physician (or a third party under the physician’s direction) monitors the readings and responds to alerts. Alerts are generated when:
- A reading is outside the thresholds set by the doctor for that individual
- The patient misses scheduled readings over a certain period of time.
When an alert occurs, the individual or caregiver gets a call or text. The monitoring staff want to validate the reading and find out if there is a problem. Based on the individual’s signs and symptoms, the monitoring staff may notify the doctor, recommend an appointment within 24-48 hours, or even advise the person to go to the urgent care clinic or ER. There are other technologies that can be used, too, such as a video call or even a visit from a care coordinator with a telemedicine kit who can help the doctor do a remote assessment of the patient.
Analyzing Data Trends Can Lead To Better Outcomes
Another major benefit of remote patient monitoring is that the patient is generating data that can be reviewed and analyzed for insidious changes or destabilization. When this data analysis is done regularly, and action is taken to change the care plan or coach the patient to change behaviors, health outcomes improve.
Monitoring Can Make Patients Feel More Secure
We have heard from patients that being monitored and managed with RPM makes them feel more secure and confident. They like having someone looking at their readings and responding if they alert or miss taking their readings. And they sure don’t mind staying out of crowded waiting rooms. There are a lot of positive benefits for patients who use RPM.
Monitoring Makes Office Visits More Productive
From the physician or practice point of view, monitoring patients remotely can increase efficiency in the office. Office visits become more productive as patients stabilize. This may also free up a percentage of the practice’s appointments for higher need patients. In other words, there’s a lot of upside to incorporating remote monitoring into a practice.
So ask yourself – could my patients or members benefit from remote patient monitoring? Then give us a call, and we’ll talk it through.