A sweeping transformation is happening right now in healthcare with advanced technologies such as remote patient monitoring (RPM) paving the way for a more data-driven approach to patient care. How a healthcare organization can collect and manage more accurate and timely data will determine its ability to improve workflows and quality of care, and deliver better patient outcomes.
The cellular remote monitoring technology promises a healthier planet through tracking, storing, and analyzing massive amounts of patient data in real time, and enabling more convenient, accessible, and affordable healthcare for all. However, to build a successful remote patient monitoring program, healthcare organizations must partner with capable remote patient monitoring companies that can help them obtain data accurately and securely, which enables clinicians to deliver better treatments and reduce health risks, complications, and hospitalizations.
The Power of Data is Revolutionizing Healthcare Systems
Remote patient monitoring is helping generate and mine vast amounts of patient data to provide critical insights to medical professionals for better delivery of healthcare. At present, the healthcare industry already accounts for almost 30 percent of the global data volume. With the increasing use of remote monitoring technology, the growth rate of healthcare data generation is likely to accelerate in the years to come.
A key force that is enabling this data revolution in healthcare is the widespread acceptance and willingness among patients to share data with the medical teams for their own benefit. Moreover, the ease of use and efficiency that cellular RPM technology companies are introducing into the process of data collection is driving patients to embrace connected healthcare.
Per day digital device interactions for individuals are growing exponentially and a significant part of these interactions are going to be healthcare-related as cellular RPM gains more universal traction. It all began with wearables such as fitness activity tracker devices and smartwatches, which received an enthusiastic response from consumers across all demographic segments and geographies.
Now remote patient monitoring is taking this transformation to the next level by enabling near real-time connectivity between patients and physicians for measuring temperature with cellular remote monitoring thermometers, managing hypertension with the use of cellular RPM blood pressure monitors, monitoring blood glucose levels with cellular RPM glucose meters, and even bodyweight management with cellular RPM scales.
Real-time patient data obtained through these advanced and reliable connected solutions not only allows healthcare providers to deliver more timely, precise, and customized care and gradually shift the focus to preventative care, but it also improves patient education and compliance. Patients become more involved and knowledgeable about managing their own condition, diligently adhering to the doctor’s advice and following prescriptions, and can proactively improve their lifestyle and behaviors for more effective health outcomes.
Top remote patient monitoring programs such as HealthSnap are able to integrate directly into most Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to provide truly seamless transmission of healthcare data.
Growing Patient Interest in Telehealth Supports Data-Driven Treatments
According to a recent study, seven out of 10 patients now believe that remote patient monitoring (RPM) helps ensure better care for them. RPM is one of the critical components of telehealth, which encompasses broad-based processes for remote healthcare. According to a McKinsey report, the use of telehealth has seen an exponential jump of 38 times compared to the pre-pandemic baseline.
The McKinsey report suggests that this step-change has occurred because of the increased willingness of people as well as care providers to use telehealth. During the peak of the Covid-19 crisis, telehealth served as a bridge to care, and it has now grown into an opportunity to reinvent care models with an aim to improve healthcare affordability, access, and outcomes.
McKinsey’s consumer research suggests that people continue to perceive telehealth as vital to their future care. About 40% of the people surveyed said that they will continue using telehealth in the future (prior to the pandemic, this figure was 11%). Moreover, up to 60% of the people have shown interest in a broader range of virtual care solutions. At the provider end, 58% of doctors now have a more favorable perception of telehealth compared to the pre-pandemic times.
Another recent study showed that 40% of medical practices today utilize RPM technology, with almost 70% of these physician offices reporting significant improvements in patient satisfaction and patient engagement levels. A survey report published by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) revealed that at present about one in four consumers use connected or smart health monitoring devices, and growth trends in this direction are clearly visible for the foreseeable future.
A research study has estimated that remote patient monitoring users in the US are likely to double to nearly 71 million over the next three years, which represents over one-quarter of the country’s population. Clearly, this scorching pace of growth in telehealth and RPM technologies is going to lead to large-scale health data generation and use. The growing connection between patients and healthcare providers facilitates a shared language and shared decision-making, enabling significant improvements in quality of care and patient outcomes.
The Process of RPM Data Collection and Analysis
Remote patient monitoring healthcare data can be obtained in different ways, depending on the healthcare organization’s remote monitoring program and a patient’s specific health concerns. However, in all cases, the data collection must be performed in a way that protects patient privacy and maintains HIPAA compliance for the organization.
In a typical case, the healthcare provider or the RPM service provider will deliver the cellular-enabled remote patient monitoring device directly to the patient’s doorstep. With a smart cellular RPM device, the patient is not required to perform any setting changes or adjustments. They can simply remove the device from the box, switch the power on, and it is ready to use.
The cellular device will send the patient data automatically to the designated healthcare team. As part of the remote patient monitoring program, the healthcare organization will have an appropriate system in place that enables RPM data integration seamlessly into the electronic health record (EHR). This ensures that the healthcare professionals and the organization can track and monitor the patient’s response. The RPM-generated healthcare data may also be incorporated into the billing cycle for insurance reimbursement.
When the patient health data is obtained, the care team can review and analyze the readings as per protocol and recommend the appropriate prescriptions, treatment, tests, or further action to the patient. Real-time RPM healthcare data evaluation and comprehensive data analysis are vital to alert the care team if the patient’s condition warrants urgent attention as well as improve the accuracy of diagnoses, treatment approaches, and preventative measures by analyzing healthcare data patterns and trends.
Quality and Quantity of RPM Data Impacts Patients Care
Traditional healthcare models cannot match the extensive amount of rich, actionable patient data that can be collected through remote patient monitoring programs. According to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), remote patient monitoring paves the way for unprecedented levels of data generated from the point of care.
With cellular RPM devices, such as BP monitors, glucometers, oxymeters, weight scales, and thermometers sending continuous streams of real-time data to the provider systems, the possibilities to improve patient care are endless. It is not only the different “sources” of data that make remote monitoring data so enriching but also the wide range of “types” of data.
Correlating these data points with some of the seemingly routine activities in a patient’s daily life, such as exercise, stressful office work, smoking or drinking, or eating particular types of foods can considerably influence the medical team’s understanding of the patient’s unique care situation and make better recommendations.
The abundant availability of healthcare data from remote patient monitoring programs enables the doctor to see patterns and correlate them with the patient’s vital signs, routine behavior, lifestyle choices, and adherence to the prescribed treatment program or drug therapy. However, clinicians and healthcare organizations that are not yet using remote monitoring programs may wonder how they can utilize such overwhelming amounts of healthcare data and draw meaningful conclusions.
A professionally run remote patient monitoring program service provider might be able to assist the healthcare organization and the care teams with the tasks of data analysis and interpretation. The remote patient monitoring experts may work with the medical providers to establish data collection and analysis protocols and customize the systems to closely match their needs.
Both objective and subjective types of data must be analyzed in conjunction to derive more accurate insights in many cases. For instance, the objective data point can be the patient’s blood pressure readings on a particular day. It can be matched with subjective data by asking questions, such as: How do you feel today? Did you sleep well last night? How many times did you eat during the day?
Collating the objective and subjective patient data can provide valuable indicators to develop much more effective medical interventions than could be possible with any traditional approaches to healthcare. When healthcare organizations partner with an experienced RPM provider with advanced resources and expertise in quantifying and qualifying the data, it can remarkably improve the organization’s ability to deliver high-quality care and achieve superior patient outcomes.
One of the current challenges, however, is the existing disconnect between clinical workflows and remote monitoring data & EHRs. Although physicians may be able to prescribe RPM devices using the electronic health records system, it is equally essential to bring the generated remote patient monitoring data full circle back into the physician workflow.
When this actionable data integration is achieved, it can drive much greater improvement in patient outcomes. However, currently, in many cases, the care team is required to log into another software program in order to access the RPM data. The lack of seamless integration of RPM data into the EHR workflows may cause the care team to miss out on the full context of the patient’s condition. That type of whole-person, comprehensive evaluation is vital to building more collaborative, iterative, and continuous models of care.
Keys to Maximize the Operational Efficiency for Data-Driven RPM Programs
Cellular technology-based remote patient monitoring systems are opening the floodgates of opportunity for healthcare organizations to lower their costs while achieving their goals of more effective and data-driven patient care. Owing to RPM programs, proactive medical interventions, successful patient self-management, and continuous feedback loops are possible today, which are raising the bar for patient care.
At various national and international forums, various healthcare stakeholders and leaders, including providers, technologists, payers, and patients have addressed the ways and means to make the deployment of RPM programs more effective. Here are some of the common strategies that these forums have identified in recent years to boost the operational efficiency of data-driven RPM care.
#1. Make Patient Data More Actionable
While a good RPM program can manage to generate timely and accurate patient data on a variety of health parameters, the data becomes actionable only when the care team is able to review, analyze and refine its treatment approach based on it. From a pragmatic viewpoint, it must be remembered that doctors are almost always busy. To make the RPM data actionable in real-time, the clinical workflows should be made as seamless as possible.
#2. Create Simple, Integrated Solutions for Best Outcomes
Considering the high patient volumes and numerous complex health systems that healthcare providers are already juggling, it may prove to be a challenge for some providers to integrate a new remote patient monitoring program into their existing systems.
On the other end, some patients may experience barriers to RPM when it requires them to act in a way that is not in sync with their lifestyle or daily routine. Therefore, the availability of simple, ready-to-use out-of-the-box cellular remote monitoring devices for patients as well as integration of the data from these devices into the existing physician workflows and EHR are the keys to greater RPM adoption and patient outcomes.
#3. Prepare Healthcare Organizations for Technological Change
Many healthcare providers of different sizes and scales continue to have resistance to change, even as they increasingly recognize the value of data-driven care through remote patient monitoring systems. To break free from the inertia and resistance to change, healthcare organizations can start with a small remote monitoring program involving only one cellular RPM device, such as a cellular blood pressure monitor or cellular glucometer.
When the care teams become more comfortable with the RPM systems and receive satisfactory feedback from patients, they will feel encouraged to extend the scope of their RPM program to more cellular RPM devices and more patients to achieve their greater goals of excellence in patient care.
#4. Acknowledge the Growing Financial Support and Use it to Advantage
New CPT codes to promote and support remote patient monitoring initiatives are a demonstration of the growing commitment at the government level to extend financial support to RPM programs. New CMS reimbursements for RPM highlight the fact that there is a concrete acknowledgment of the improved capabilities that data-driven RPM technology brings to the nation’s healthcare system.
This support is only going to increase year after year as patients and providers embrace digital health technologies. The challenges to healthcare delivery experienced during the peaks of the Covid-19 pandemic have also led to an accelerated acceptance and recognition of the benefits of remote patient monitoring in improving patient care.
#5. Understand the Groundbreaking Value RPM Programs Bring to the Healthcare System
As long as a cellular remote monitoring program is managed well in concert with an outstanding RPM delivery partner, it holds the potential to transform patient care and provide unprecedented benefits for both patients and care providers. Data-driven care delivers targeted benefits for the patient’s health while reducing their costs of care and bringing comfort and convenience.
At the same time, it expands the scope for the medical professionals to deliver access to care to more patients across geographies, while reducing the time and costs involved in the process. From a patient’s perspective, the availability of insightful data through RPM enables them to look at their own health and lifestyle in a more informed manner. The data creates a more meaningful connection between the patient and the physician and improves their engagement levels for better outcomes.
As the burden on the healthcare system has grown with higher patient volumes, particularly those that require management of chronic medical conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes, the need for data-driven remote patient monitoring systems is now greater than ever before. When implemented correctly in partnership with reputable cellular RPM delivery providers, these cutting-edge data & intelligence-based systems open up a world of opportunities to make high-value care more accurate, accessible, and affordable for all.
Data Collection is Only One Element in the RPM Process
Remote patient monitoring is a lot more than just a complementary tool to effective telemedicine. Remote patient monitoring represents a powerful, continuing stream of useful data that can exponentially enhance insights into the targeted areas of patient health.
In concert with the appropriate technology stack, remotely monitoring patients creates an opportunity for healthcare organizations to fine-tune their patient engagement strategies through real-time assessment of changes in patient health without the need for face-to-face consultations or tests and delivering custom care remotely.
Data collection is not really the end goal, but just the first step in this journey. For RPM programs to improve health outcomes and provide greater value to HCOs, data collection must be paired with advanced capabilities for analytics and interpretation. Moreover, the HCO should have systems in place for the integration of the patient data streams into physician workflows to make more effective and timely evaluations and identify high-risk patients for immediate outreach.
While implementing a comprehensive RPM solution, the HCOs should also focus on developing the capabilities to rapidly ingest patient data from various connected systems and devices and utilize it to establish higher-level abstract information about specific patients. Going forward, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will have a key role to play in channeling large volumes of raw patient data into targeted, individualized predictions and action.
The Potential of RPM Data and Artificial Intelligence
Advancements in the field of artificial intelligence are set to boost the potential of RPM data much beyond its incorporation into medical reports and other interfaces. AI can extend the current scope of proactive and preventative care that a good RPM program delivers.
For instance, an elderly patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) experiences a disruption in their periodic in-person appointments because of Covid-19 or has other physical limitations that discourage them from visiting their PCP in person. In this situation, their symptoms may deteriorate, while remaining undetected for a long time.
In absence of an effective RPM program, it may be highly challenging for professional care providers to identify an increase in health risk for the patient or anticipate accurately the onset of complications. On the other hand, with the implementation of a successful RPM that also leverages the power of AI, it becomes possible to proactively identify the patient’s change in condition and make appropriate interventions.
For example, if the patient’s cellular RPM device (such as an RPM oximeter) detects a worsened level of blood oxygen saturation, the real-time healthcare data input combined with predictive AI analytics can enable the care provider to initiate immediate treatment steps. An AI program can instantly analyze the oxygen level decline in the context of other clinical data and patient history to predict that there is an increased likelihood of the patient having to visit the emergency room within the next 30 days because of deterioration of symptoms.
This critical insight into the patient’s condition backed by clinical evidence from multiple clinical data sources will enable the care team to escalate the case as a high priority for urgent intervention. Consequently, adverse patient outcomes can be minimized, while improving patient health and substantially bringing down the costs for all stakeholders.
The combined use of AI and RPM also supports healthy patient behaviors without medical interventions. AI programs that ingest RPM data can help develop intelligent feedback loops enabling the care team to make more precise preventive recommendations. Patients with chronic conditions can benefit the most because the care team obtains deeper and analytical insights into their condition, while personalized insights also motivate the patient to follow better self-management practices and behaviors.
For instance, an RPM program may identify that the patient requires a greater amount of physical activity or exercise to manage their hypertension, while the AI inputs may personalize this recommendation for better outcomes. The AI input may suggest, based on its learning about patient preferences, that the patient should consider long morning walks with their pet instead of going for an intensive jogging session. The patient may be more receptive to this recommendation, resulting in higher compliance.
Clearly, healthcare organizations can leverage AI and remote patient monitoring in combination to make long-term disease management more data-driven and results-oriented by identifying which means of patient engagement and which types of interventions foster healthy behaviors more effectively.
At the core level, successful remote patient monitoring implementation along with AI-based models presents a more efficient approach for care teams and patients to exchange meaningful healthcare data remotely and enable continuous engagement outside of face-to-face interactions.
At the broader level, remote patient monitoring along with AI creates an opportunity to completely re-imagine care delivery and change the prevailing paradigms of care in the pursuit of improved patient outcomes. Patients are the ultimate beneficiaries of this technology because they can enjoy potentially better health & financial outcomes while experiencing an improved quality of life.
Next Areas of Focus to Optimize Remote Patient Monitoring Data Benefits
Although remote patient monitoring has already come a long way, particularly with the advent of cellular remote patient monitoring devices, there are some key areas that RPM delivery providers must focus on in order to optimize RPM healthcare data. Data accuracy, data security, and systems integration should be central to the next generation of innovations in RPM programs.
RPM providers must also look at ways to overcome regulatory as well as technological barriers that may prevent some types of patient data from being acquired. At the same time, they must leverage the power of AI and machine learning to make more effective evaluations by combining real-time patient data with the patient’s medical history, behaviors, and lifestyle.
In other words, the next goal of remote patient monitoring technology developers must be to transition from model building to optimal data operationalization in order to deliver greater value to HCOs. In the larger context, data science leads to abstract models, but the key is to translate these models into measurable observations for delivering the best value to the stakeholders. The remote monitoring process must be well-integrated into the HCO operations so that the insights can feed productively into the overall process.
Remote patient monitoring developers should work on improvising their digital framework to cover key areas, such as:
#1. Data Storage
The framework for remote patient monitoring data storage should be capable of organizing real-time data as well as legacy data in the cloud that feeds it directly into the system algorithm. Although there will be large amounts of patient data and a range of data points, a single system should have the ability to monitor and manage it.
#2. Data Security
Data security is the second layer of the digital framework. Developers should focus on creating a reliable framework that protects the data against breaches and unauthorized use and preserves data privacy and confidentiality.
Moreover, the issues of data ownership boundaries must be clearly settled (for instance, whether data access can be given only to the care team or the patient’s family members too). In an emergency situation, when the patient is unresponsive or incapacitated, the authorized users should be able to immediately access the data according to the pre-determined protocol and deliver treatment.
This is the next layer within the framework. Middleware is a software program designed to deliver common capabilities and services to external apps beyond what the operating system offers. The middleware should be tailored to the healthcare provider’s specific requirements for health information technology, electronic health record, and patient medical records.
#4. Artificial Intelligence Algorithms
Once the remote patient monitoring data is secured and organized, it must be funneled into the AI and machine learning algorithms, which can keep learning about the patient’s condition and behaviors from the continuous data streams, and eventually start recognizing patterns to make appropriate recommendations. A high degree of trust in the quality of data is critical to the success of AI-driven recommendations.
This is possible with reliable cellular remote monitoring devices from a proven and dedicated RPM service provider. AI and ML can process extensive volumes of data from diverse demographic groups and provide useful analysis for the care teams. For instance, if accurate RPM data from Hispanic females in the age group of 35 to 50 is fed into the artificial intelligence algorithms, the program can quickly start identifying patterns and trends that help healthcare providers make better-informed diagnoses and put in place more effective plans for targeted patient care.
#5. UI and UX
User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) constitute the final piece of the digital framework. The success of a healthcare RPM platform can considerably depend on how effectively it presents the data to the care teams. Medical professionals are often hard-pressed for time, and may not have spare bandwidth to learn how to make sense of multiple data points showing on their screen. It is up to the software engineers and designers to develop a user-friendly interface that accurately translates algorithmic patterns into easy-to-understand and valuable pieces of information that can improve clinical outcomes.
A logical synthesis of all these elements can deliver dramatically rewarding results for all stakeholders from a remote monitoring program. However, it requires dedicated expertise and resource allocation in the areas of data science, design, and software engineering in order to make the most out of remote patient monitoring technology going forward. Forward-looking cellular remote patient delivery providers are focused on building the right digital framework and producing high-precision RPM devices to revolutionize healthcare.
RPM Data can Accelerate the Use of Telehealth
Remote patient monitoring data is a key component to help achieve the larger goals of telehealthcare delivery. Beyond monitoring the patient’s vital parameters and alerting the care providers, RPM data and health statistics can be utilized judiciously to make sure that clinical interventions are made only when necessary, and the following three goals of telehealth are achieved successfully:
- Reduction in healthcare costs
- Improvement of health outcomes
- Improvement in patient engagement and experience
Here are the key RPM drivers that support the growing impact of telehealth:
With the advent of cutting-edge 5G cellular communication technology, healthcare organizations can now receive massive volumes of patient data in a structured data format faster and more reliably and process for timely interventions.
Cellular remote patient monitoring technology is making it possible to overcome the challenges of data access and reach rural regions and underserved populations to meet the greater goals of public health, human services, population health management, and affordable telehealth for all.
Cellular remote monitoring data analytics can be obtained from wherever the patient is located, ensuring total convenience and avoiding the time, effort, and cost of visiting the doctor’s office for a face-to-face examination.
Continuous connectivity between the patient and the care team, both in health and in sickness, creates deeper patient engagement levels and improves the patient’s sense of health security.
The growing adoption of cellular RPM healthcare information technology not only delivers the wider benefits of data analysis to improve outcomes but also brings down the cost per unit for RPM devices and related services.
Cellular RPM devices are versatile enough to obtain different types of patient-generated health data and personal health information that can be collected and analyzed to address a wide range of health conditions across the medical spectrum.
#VIII. Care Teams Advantage
Increasing healthcare burden because of growing patient volumes and higher expectations of care prove to be a challenge for treatment providers and cause clinician burnout. Remote Patient Monitoring data changes that by easing the paths to care, and as a result, has a high rate of provider adoption.
#IX. Chronic Disease Management
Chronic conditions often require regular patient monitoring of various health parameters and timely interventions can be critical. With access to real-time remote patient monitoring healthcare data, the management of chronic conditions becomes much more effective.
#X. Improved Patient Outcomes
The availability of reliable and continuous RPM health care data supports timely, evidence-based medical interventions, which are intrinsic to the achievement of better health outcomes and improved overall health care quality.
#XI. Regulatory Support
The federal and state regulations as well as reimbursement rules are increasingly supportive of remote patient monitoring programs. In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the use cases of remote patient monitoring claims data and technology have encouraged a favorable regulatory environment.
HealthSnap Provides an Advanced RPM Platform for Data-Driven Chronic Disease Management
HealthSnap offers a reliable, industry-leading Remote Patient Monitoring platform that can enable your care teams to achieve greater productivity and performance while delivering excellent patient care. Let your healthcare organization be a leader in proactive care with real-time data transmissions and routed clinical alerts, which drive higher patient engagement and enable data-driven medical decisions for efficient chronic condition management and improved outcomes.
To learn more about how HealthSnap can help your organization achieve its RPM goals, call us at 888-780-1872 or schedule a personalized RPM consultation for your practice!