Remote patient monitoring is here to stay. Its prevalence is increasing and fundamentally changing how clinicians deliver healthcare, how patients receive it, and how technologies and services are covered.
Healthcare organizations are already experiencing the benefits of RPM through reduced organizational costs, bed days, hospital admissions, and greater staff capacity.1 For patients, RPM provides real-time health information to doctors, increases personal health knowledge, and reduces travel costs.
With 88% of providers already invested or evaluating investments in RPM2, healthcare organizations must prepare their IT infrastructure and operating procedures to support it.
Some of the most common RPM implementation mistakes include lack of resourcing, enrolling the wrong patients, and inadequate patient training.3 To ensure an RPM program is successful for patients, physicians, and the organization, use these steps to guide the implementation process.
Identify RPM Needs
Remote patient monitoring has the potential to bridge gaps that exist in the healthcare industry and individual organizations. To identify RPM priorities in any organization, form a dedicated implementation team to represent the needs of each stakeholder, including patients, physicians and staff, as well as leadership and administration. These teams collaborate to identify the RPM opportunities, priorities, and goals by considering things like:
- For patients, assess gaps in their care continuum: what areas need more attention or capability? It could be in the areas of prevention, monitoring, diagnosis, treatment, or care management. Improving the quality of care for patients with mobility or transportation concerns is also a priority.
- For physicians and staff, look at opportunities for more effective health monitoring, treatment delivery, and management. RPM devices can improve real-time symptom management, treatment efficacy, impact remote monitoring protocols, improve workflows, and increase patient engagement, among others.
- For leadership and administration, consider how an RPM program can streamline operations and impact financials. RPM is linked to lower admission rates and can create new revenue streams.
Looking at your RPM needs from every angle should generate a long list of opportunities. These should be prioritized based on the organization’s objectives related to health outcomes, patient experience, financials, and provider satisfaction. RPM programs should start small to get off the ground, then capabilities can be added as care teams and patients become more familiar with using the technology.
Looking for some direction? Chronic conditions impact a substantial portion of the U.S. population, with respiratory conditions making up a significant fraction. Currently, there’s a severe lack of tools to objectively diagnose and grade the severity of respiratory diseases, making them the most expensive and fatal conditions globally. Digital RPM stethoscopes are rising in popularity, and providers recognize their utility in improving the quality of care being delivered. The latest connected devices are easy for organizations to implement and simple for patients to use, making them an ideal device for early-stage RPM programs.
Evaluate RPM Device Vendors
Once RPM program priorities are set, it’s time to evaluate vendors. Most vendors will support implementation, IT integration, change management, and physician training.
Most organizations will develop a vendor intake form and build a Request for Proposal (RFP) to ensure that your goals are communicated. In addition to receiving a device demo and referrals, the implementation and evaluation team should ask the following questions:
- Is your device(s) HIPAA compliant?
- Does the platform interface with EHRs?
- How will patients receive the device?
- What does your training look like?
- Do you provide support for device issues?
- What does your customer service entail?
Another big part of the vendor discussion is contract terms—are the devices available for lease or sale, and what would work best for the organization’s budget and goals?
Establish Operating Procedures
Once a new vendor(s) partner is selected, the next step is to establish operating workflows, training programs, and billing and reimbursement processes. Dedicated implementation teams may need to be expanded to include IT, billing, additional clinical staff, and the RPM vendor for tactical conversations.
- Operational workflows need to cover how the device will integrate with EHRs and the new responsibilities and staffing requirements to support the device. The complexity of these decisions will depend on the type of RPM device(s) being implemented. For smaller devices like digital stethoscopes, the operating procedures and change management requirements can be simple.
- Training for physicians on operating the device, accessing it within the EHR, reacting to incoming patient data, and dealing with any technical issues will need to be provided. Training and documentation for patients are also required—the vendor should be able to provide support here.
- Billing and reimbursement processes will need an update. There are new policies created every year that provide or remove coverage with specific conditions or insurance coverage, so it is important to be familiar with the evolving RPM landscape. To get started, review the 2022 Remote Therapeutic Monitoring (RTM) billing codes that enable reimbursement for RPM services.
Pilot the Program with Patients
Recruit eligible patients to execute a pilot program with your new RPM device. Patients should be made aware that they are participating in a pilot program that will test workflows, work out technical issues, assess patient usage, and gather feedback for improvement.
Establish baseline metrics aligned to your RPM program’s goals to compare against. These metrics might be related to health outcomes, patient experience, financials, or provider satisfaction.
Expand & Scale Your RPM Program
Outcomes of the pilot program should inform areas for improvement and opportunities to expand and scale your program. Once your RPM program is established for one device, it becomes easier to introduce additional digital health tools. Lean on your vendors, too! Telehealth and medical technology companies know that their devices are dramatically changing how healthcare is delivered, and they are equipped to support physicians and organizations through the transition. Remote patient monitoring is already a staple in healthcare programs across the U.S. and will only continue to grow.
If you’re just getting started with RPM, addressing chronic respiratory conditions is an effective place to start, and we’re here to help. Sonavi Labs is one of the MedTech industry’s top venture-backed startups focused on helping patients with respiratory diseases. The Company aims to transform healthcare delivery with its FDA-approved digital stethoscope, Feelix featuring proprietary acoustic technology and embedded machine learning software. To learn more about digital RPM stethoscopes, contact us.