Even after arming yourself with all of the necessary information regarding what makes a strong remote patient monitoring program, you may still find yourself with one big challenge. With the RPM industry growing, organizations have an increasing number of system options to choose from. It can be hard to discern which RPM system will be the best fit, so we’ve outlined five questions that will help take the guesswork out of the process.
Before choosing a remote patient monitoring system, answer these five questions.
- What remote patient monitoring services do I want to offer?
Specialty organizations will want to seek a system that supports RPM equipment which can collect and interpret their most pertinent patient data. Blood pressure and weight may be particularly important for cardiologists while an endocrinologist may focus on blood glucose, for example. On the other hand, general or family practices will want to base their decision of what RPM services to offer on their chosen target patient base and what conditions they want to manage.
It's not unusual to see organizations launch a remote patient monitoring program while targeting a specific condition. In other words, the organization initially manages one condition and provides only one type of RPM equipment to patients. As the organization and its staff become more comfortable with their RPM program and its associated processes, the organization begins to expand the program and provide additional services.
- How difficult is it to set up and use the remote patient monitoring system?
Some RPM vendors will provide organizations with the system and user instructions and then require organizations to perform the bulk or all of the setup work. Other vendors will take a more active role in supporting setup that can help expedite the process, better ensure questions are answered, and address any barriers to success.
Setup is only part of the equation. Once a remote patient monitoring system is set up, there is the matter of ease of use. If an RPM system proves challenging, this may deter usage by providers and staff and stifle any desire to grow a program. A more complex system may not necessarily be a hindrance if your team is tech-savvy and/or the RPM system vendor provides ongoing training and support, but you will want to determine whether these are the case before proceeding with your investment in the system.
Some remote patient monitoring systems can be customized to fit your clinical workflow, produce desired reports, and deliver notifications in the manner of your choosing. When demoing a system, work to understand ease of use, customization options, and the availability of training and support.
Another important consideration is whether and how easily the remote patient monitoring system interfaces with your existing technology, such as an electronic medical records (EMR) software and/or revenue cycle management solution. If this functionality is important to your organization, you will want to assess the ease of establishing such an interface when researching system options.
- What are my options for remote patient monitoring equipment?
The type(s) of RPM equipment you can offer and provide to patients will vary by the system you choose. This is an especially important consideration because the success of an RPM program will largely depend upon the RPM equipment or devices used by patients.
Some vendors will require that you provide patients with the vendor's own remote patient monitoring equipment to use the RPM system. Others will allow you to "bring your own device," meaning that you have the flexibility to integrate the use of devices made by other manufacturers.
In addition, patients can receive their remote patient monitoring equipment in different ways. Some vendors will give you the option of shipping devices directly to patients (usually the vendor's own devices) while others ship devices to the organization, leaving distribution of equipment in your hands. Some RPM equipment can be purchased by patients themselves, but you will want to ensure that if patients indicate a desire to purchase their own equipment, the equipment will be compatible with your remote patient monitoring system.
Don’t forget to ask these questions: Where will support for patient setup and use of the equipment will come from? Will this be the sole responsibility of your organization or does the RPM vendor offer help, training, and ongoing support?
Lastly, consider whether you want to offer your patients cellularly connected devices, Bluetooth devices, or a combination of both, as this may impact your decision.
- How are coding and billing completed?
The type of remote patient monitoring system you use will influence whether coding and billing are consistently completed and done so accurately and how much time staff must spend billing for services. When speaking with vendors, determine how their RPM system supports coding and billing. A good RPM system will ease and streamline this process for you. Such functionality is just one of the many ways we've worked to distinguish Prevounce from other RPM systems on the market.
When you can bill accurately and efficiently, this minimizes associated staffing costs and will allow your organization to maximize what it earns after paying the RPM vendor for its service. Vendor fees will vary based on the type of program you use and may include the devices themselves, software hosting, customer support for the organization and/or patients, and cellular service.
- What service type of RPM program do I want for my organization?
The remote patient monitoring system you chose will help dictate the type of RPM program used by your organization and vice versa. Understanding the differences between RPM program types will help you determine what type of program you want for your organization.
A full-service program can be summarized as follows:
- The organization contracts with the remote patient monitoring company to supply patients with devices, either shipped directly to patients by the vendor or distributed by the organization.
- The organization may have the option to lease the devices, eliminating upfront costs for new patients.
- Devices are often cellular.
- Technical support for patients may be available.
- While monthly costs are likely to be a higher percentage of reimbursement than self-managed programs, the initial cost of devices is eliminated, and staff time spent managing the program is significantly reduced.
A self-managed program can be summarized as follows:
- The organization maintains the supply of devices.
- The organization contracts with a remote patient monitoring software vendor to manage device data.
- The organization is expected to provide any necessary technical support for patients, which is not billable time.
- Overall costs tend to be lower than a full-service program, but an organization will incur significant upfront costs and need to allocate more resources to operating the program.
Making an informed decision on which remote patient monitoring system to invest in may prove the difference between whether an RPM program, which includes the software and services provided using it, successfully meets patient and organization needs or if the investment is one that an organization regrets.
Once this choice is made, it’s time to think about execution of your program.