Boasting a range of benefits, from reduced ER admissions, to better patient-provider relationships, Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is definitely worth the consideration for current health systems. The process of implementing any new health program can seem daunting. Pushback, training or implementation of any new service demands time that isn’t always so easily disposable. Nevertheless, solutions are available to streamline the process. With the right partnerships and workflows, those relief-granting solutions can be just within reach.
See the following tips for choosing the best RPM vendor for your health organization, and how to seamlessly integrate the service into your community health plans.
Choosing an RPM Vendor:
On the surface-level, RPM vendors may seem very similar. However, the little differences in between can make a world of difference for proper execution. Overall, key RPM functionality requirements to consider include:
- Patient usability
- EHR integration
- Data reporting & analytics
- Reminders system
- Diagnostic and alerts capabilities
- HIPAA-compliance and security
- Data storage and transfer
- Connectivity requirements
- Patient education capabilities
- Telehealth integration and intervention
- Hardware compatibility
- Cost and sustainability
Let’s take a closer look at some of the bullet points above and see how a vendor can fit within your needs.
Patient Usability: Ideally, your choice of RPM vendor should provide you with devices and software that are easily accessible to your patients. An RPM program is useless if your patients can’t access it. For underserved populations, broadband can often be the biggest impediment to receiving quality virtual care. Consider suppliers that can provide your patients with cellular-enabled devices that don’t necessitate an internet or bluetooth connection*.
The devices themselves should also be relatively simple to use, without requiring too much digital literacy. After all, accessibility stems beyond broadband access. Take for example researchers who developed an AI-tool that is installed inside toilet pipes to monitor patients’ stool. The tool makes use of something every patient has in their home—a toilet—and provides a relatively hands-off approach. Look for devices that align with similar accessible principles.
Patient Education Capabilities: It’s not expected that anyone could pick up a device and start using it without any trial or error. A team dedicated to helping your patients troubleshoot device usability can ensure you receive the needed data on a reliable basis. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be a team composed of your own members. Outsourcing patient enrollment then education efforts to vendors equipped to handle it can prevent additional burden*. This allows your team to fully focus on what’s most relevant to your job.
EHR Integration: There are already enough administrative burdens plaguing the physician workplace. Make your workflows simpler by choosing a vendor that can integrate its solution directly to your EHR and branding efforts.
Telehealth Integration and Intervention: RPM services can often be a part of a larger effort to increase remote care options. RPM can function as part of other care management services, such as Chronic Care Management (CCM) or Transitional Care Management (TCM). Accordingly, it would be beneficial to have a centralized point of contact for patient-provider exchanges, as well as provider-provider exchanges. What’s great about RPM data is that it highlights trends in patient outcomes. If included as a system feature, an alert can signal to a provider when intervention might be needed. However, this intervention might not always need to be immediately in-person. It would then be an advantage to have a place to see, discuss and act on that data. For example, Certintell’s portal shows RPM data, gives you the opportunity to communicate about that data with multiple members of the care team, and provides a place to conduct video visits and harnesses store-and-forward capabilities. Portals such as these can help create cohesion between your mHealth ventures for maximum efficacy.
Vendor Selection: Looking for the RPM “Holy Trinity”
In sum, if there’s anything you should look for in an RPM vendor, let it be these three features:
-Connected RPM Devices
-Software and Portals
-Full-time employees who can support your team, patients, and reduce provider stresses
|Important RPM Functionalities||*Capability Included With Certintell RPM Services||Other RPM Vendors Offering Specific Functionalities?|
|Telehealth Integration and Intervention||X||?|
Integrating RPM Into Your Community
Once you’ve chosen a vendor that fits your needs, the next step is to launch the program and integrate it into your community.
Gain Clinician Buy-In: It will be imperative to address all stakeholder wishes during this process. Perhaps, it would be best to start with the medical team. These members must be invested for the RPM program to see veritable success. Even so, a vendor can lessen administrative burdens, such as through patient outreach and billing. Medical team members may be more likely to adopt RPM if this is the case. However, for other tasks nurses and physicians must provide, it’s important they know their daily responsibilities. In fact, their RPM responsibilities could be such a small part of their day, they may forget to do them.¹ Nevertheless, the more your organization streamlines this process, the easier it will become.
Once clinician buy-in is achieved, the care team should work together to determine what they want to achieve with the RPM program. What subgroup of patients will you focus on? Are all the patients eligible for the RPM program you wish to launch*?
*Bonus of choosing Certintell: Integrate the proprietary virtual medical practice to complete your patient eligibility checks! FREE for Medicare Beneficiaries.
Aligning values: Clinicians should align the RPM targets to organizational values to ensure a cohesive team mindset when performing the service. Medical staff in health centers are often invested in the future of the community they serve. RPM could then be used as a unique opportunity to achieve community-health efforts. This could include eliminating health disparities for patients, across racial or socio-economical lines. Perhaps RPM can be a chance to identify care gaps and then use more targeted services to help fill them.
Incorporating shared measurement principles can be an equally-as-important initiative when aligning organizational values. Shared measurement is defined as a strategy to use a common set of measurable goals that reflect shared priorities across systems and with community members. This means collecting input from the community on where they feel as though their health is lacking and what resources would best benefit them. An RPM program designed with the help of the community may not always be the one your team originally imagined.
Shared measurement is defined as a strategy to use a common set of measurable goals that reflect shared priorities across systems and with community members.
Readying Patients: Part of the patient outreach process should involve gaining patient investment in the program. Thoroughly informing patients of RPM benefits and usages can have an empowering effect on their final outcomes. It’s best if education is provided in multiple formats to support different learning styles.² Furthermore, this education should extend to the “how-to” of RPM. Important elements to make patients aware of include:
-“Available hours” and limitations of RPM
-What to do in case of device malfunction
-What to do in case of emergency reading and when to access the next point of care²
Be sure to connect patients to a variety of communication channels to ensure the patient can receive help when needed. A successful program not only includes the technology, but the follow-up to create behavior change.
*Certintell bonus: patients receive RPM guides and personal training calls during device set-up
Launch Pilot and Scale: You might already have an idea of which patients want to take steps toward better health (even though RPM is sure to get others on the same track). Maybe you can roll out the pilot with patients who already show signs of motivation, but who simply don’t have the resources to do so. It should be acknowledged, however, that any signs of implicit bias must be considered when selecting patients. Take for example clinicians at Brigham’s and Women’s Health that didn’t realize how much more they were referring white patients into specialty cardiac care compared to BIPOC patients. Consider surveying patients for resource disparities before making any definitive decisions.
Starting small will help you monitor successes and pitfalls, so you can more easily and gradually scale. Optimize procedures on an ongoing basis to achieve desired outcomes. Then, establish mechanisms to measure patient engagement and satisfaction.
If the numbers show like we believe they will, then it’s time to scale!
SEE MORE: CERTINTELL CASE STUDY IN SOUTH CAROLINA FQHCs
“My A1c went from 14.0 to 6.4 with the help of RPM . This level of accountability really helped me to make better food choices and helped me see on a daily basis how to adjust my diet to meet my goals. I have lost 14 pounds and no longer taking Insulin,” one patient from Little River Medical Center shared with us.
Little River was just one of the many FQHCs participating in a pilot RPM program as a result of a partnership between Certintell and the South Carolina Health Center Controlled Network. To access all the data and get inspired, see the case study here.
¹ American Medical Association. “Telehealth Scenario: Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) for Diabetes Management.” American Medical Association, 20 Oct. 2021, www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/digital/telehealth-scenario-remote-patient-monitoring-rpm-diabetes-management.
² Harris County Medical Society. “Remote Patient Monitoring Implementing RPM in Practices.” HCMS, certintell.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/RPMImplementingRPMinPractices.pdf. Accessed 23 Mar. 2022.