As a majority of daily life remains safer-at-home and telehealth continues to surge, remote patient monitoring (RPM) has become an integral component of chronic condition management. By allowing healthcare providers to monitor disease and symptoms remotely, RPM provides the opportunity to more effectively engage with patients virtually, modify care plans based on real-time data, and to provide education on self-care, based on changes in the patient’s condition. From Apple watches to blood glucose monitors, it allows healthcare providers to tap into the daily routines of patients in real-time, creating the ability to better work with and manage patients’ conditions, and drive better outcomes.
Why is this important? RPM not only helps providers visualize patient metrics in real-time, but it supports infrastructure for better patient engagement. Patients with chronic conditions are more motivated to adhere to their prescribed therapies when they feel engaged and are supported by their care team, clinical and non-clinical, alike. They may also enjoy a longer and reasonable quality of life. RPM also improves patient behavior by creating a system by which people are more engaged with, and accountable for, their health.
How Remote Patient Monitoring Has Expanded Due to COVID-19
RPM had already been getting some major traction. The past few years could be viewed as a trial run and 2020 will be the culmination of all the efforts. As we’ve seen in the last few months, the need for this technology is great. With people sequestered to their homes, RPM has never been more prevalent.
When the pandemic struck, many businesses were closed, but hospitals and doctors offices remained open. However, their normal patient patterns had taken a dramatic shift: less routine care visits and an influx of COVID-19 patients. Many patients, especially those with chronic illnesses, avoided the doctor’s office for fear of contraction, leading to an increase in RPM incorporation. This increase makes sense, the technology provides an appropriate, effective mechanism to gauge physiological changes in a patient’s health and condition-specific data using digitally connected non-invasive devices. Clinicians are able to monitor and track metrics, such as temperature or pulmonary function, without the risk of person-to-person contact.
CMS made a number of changes to support the adaptation of RPM, but the most important change is that the use of RPM devices could be used for those patients with chronic conditions and those with acute health needs. However, Medicare coverage for RPM and digital health services were limited to those with one or more chronic condition only, and unfortunately, those who needed limited care were not accounted for.
Compounding RPM with Intervention
While this technology is great, RPM coupled with targeted interventions, like digital health coaching, can really bring remote care full circle. Independently, the two produce numerable benefits for a location-agnostic population but combined, it creates a seamless “out-of-office” care package for patients, regardless of where they are. When created in sync with clinical care, we deliver a comprehensive care package to patients with all the dots already connected.
For example, Pack Health integrates data from remote monitoring sources through partners, such as Glooko and Validic, into our chronic care management platform. Our Health Advisors connect with Pack Health members on a weekly basis, so they have a foundational understanding of each member’s goals and behaviors. With RPM, Health Advisors are able to pair this intricate understanding of the individual with real-time visualization of data points, like their blood glucose levels or activity minutes. This creates invaluable insight for Health Advisors to connect the dots on the full picture of member health so they’re able to link actions to outcomes in a data-driven way.
With someone monitoring patients with RPM devices and delivering timely intervention based on that data, these two technologies create the perfect opportunity that has the potential to go as far as to predict future adverse events in patients’ lives. Furthermore, when partnering with clinical providers, we create the infrastructure to deliver that information to clinical providers and escalate, when necessary.
Remote patient monitoring technology has come full force into our world but is an innovative technology that swings doors open for care access. From an organization who has been incorporating RPM into our care management for years, we’re well aware of the numerous benefits it presents: from allowing healthcare providers to monitor disease and symptoms remotely to informing needs for virtual engagement, remote patient monitoring has endless possibilities for a future with socially-distanced care. While we did not expect that a pandemic would strike, the progress made in remote patient monitoring was essential to the growth of the telehealth world.