Over the past couple of months, we’ve been preparing a series of posts about remote patient monitoring (RPM). Now, with social distancing the norm, this technology is more important and relevant than ever. But digital health tools are still far from mainstream in the average clinical setting, and providers still have a lot of questions.
As the leading digital platform for respiratory care, Propeller has been fortunate enough to implement RPM in a variety of health systems and practices. In this post — the first in a series on implementing RPM — we’ll cover the basics.
How does RPM work?
RPM programs focus on the collection of remote health data — typically via a connected device or platform — and the interpretation of the data to inform ongoing treatment. This data varies by program and might include parameters like weight, blood pressure or respiratory flow rate.
For example, pulmonologists and allergists use Propeller’s platform to track medication adherence, rescue inhaler usage and respiratory symptoms among their patients. This information helps them identify high-risk asthma or COPD patients who may benefit from interventions like telemedicine visits or phone consultations.
What’s the goal of an RPM program?
Digital health technology is much more valuable when it’s optimized to solve tangible problems in an organization. Our health system and clinician partners all implemented Propeller programs because of challenges with specific patient populations for which RPM was the best solution.
Before you begin evaluating a solution, the American Medical Association recommends identifying concrete needs and defining success for meeting those needs. Without doing this, there is no way to tell if RPM is worth implementing, and there is no way to measure the success of a program over time.
To determine needs, many organizations first look at which patients and conditions are driving the highest costs — this is certainly a good place to start. But it’s equally crucial for decision-makers to gather feedback from the clinical staff who care for patients and from the administrative staff who are close to daily operations. They will help you understand if the technology will truly add value and support patient care.
Whether for a large health system or small private practice, RPM programs often support the following goals:
RPM can improve patient outcomes. Remote monitoring has been proven to impact health outcomes across many chronic conditions, from decreasing high blood pressure for hypertension patients to supporting preventive care for type 2 diabetes.
At Propeller, we focus on measuring outcomes like improvements in medication adherence and increases in days without rescue usage. Recently, we collaborated with JenCare Senior Medical Center clinicians to decrease daily use of rescue medication by 59% in a group of 190 patients. Our peer-reviewed research on inhaler habits during the coronavirus pandemic also demonstrated a 15% lift in medication adherence, showing how RPM can improve condition self-management.
RPM can reduce inpatient healthcare utilization. Studies show that RPM reduces emergency room visits, hospital readmissions, and even preliminary hospital admissions in some cases. Propeller’s research team has published studies demonstrating that our platform can contribute to decreased inpatient utilization in both asthma patients and COPD patients.
On the other hand, remote monitoring can also flag high-risk patients who would benefit from a proactive phone consultation or telemedicine visit. These proactive visits, which may be reimbursable depending on the patient’s health plan, can help prevent patients from needing to seek medical care outside the home, which is important in times of quarantine.
RPM can make care coordination more efficient. How much time do patients spend filling out medical questionnaires at the start of each appointment? How much time per visit do clinicians spend asking patients questions about their symptoms and changes in behavior? Patient-generated health data from RPM programs can be a great help on both sides of this equation.
When RPM is successful, the patient no longer has to wrack their brain to summarize months’ worth of symptoms, and the clinician has a reliable and objective source of data at the point of care. Best of all, this allows more time to discuss treatment and important health concerns.
Outside of the clinic, RPM continues to enhance care coordination. Rather than follow up with every patient on the phone after their office visits, clinical staff can monitor who is not adhering to their treatment and focus more effort on those patients.
While these are the primary reasons we’ve seen practices implement RPM, there are many more depending on the nuances of each practice. If you’re interested in learning more about RPM for your organization, watch a recording of our remote care webinar here or send us an email at [email protected].
This is part one in a series on implementing remote patient monitoring in clinical settings. In the next post, we discuss the planning and resources needed to launch a successful program.