Executing a Successful Remote Patient Monitoring Program

The importance of patient buy-in to executing an effective remote patient monitoring program cannot be overstated. To achieve such engagement is dependent upon your ability to educate patients on the nuances of RPM. To ensure the short- and long-term viability of an RPM program, you will need patients to initially agree to your recommendation that they begin to use a remote patient home monitoring device and then continue to use the device over time.

Such success will largely depend upon your ability to effectively educate patients on remote patient home monitoring and your RPM program. Consider following these six recommended practices.

  1. Define Remote Patient Home Monitoring

    This may seem obvious, but securing patient buy-in begins with ensuring your patients grasp the concept of RPM. Most patients are probably fuzzy on the details of RPM. Others may not be familiar with it at all. Then there are those who may confuse it with other telehealth disciplines or the patient monitoring systems used in controlled healthcare environments to track the likes of body temperature, respiration, arrhythmia detection, oxygen saturation, and end-tidal carbon dioxide. For help with defining remote patient home monitoring and contrasting it with telehealth and patient monitoring, check out this blog post.

  2. Describe How Remote Patient Home Monitoring Works

    With the concept defined, you will be in a better position to provide patients with a general understanding of how remote patient home monitoring works. While the details will vary based upon the data your organizatio is collecting and device(s) used (more on this below), we think this summary from the Center for Connected Health Policy effectively explains the remote patient monitoring home process: “RPM uses digital technologies to collect medical and other forms of health data from individuals in one location and electronically transmit that information securely to healthcare providers in a different location for assessment and recommendations. This type of service allows a provider to continue to track healthcare data for a patient once released to home or a care facility…”

  3. Explain the Value of Remote Patient Home Monitoring

    Some patients will look for you to explain why they should proceed with this relatively novel form of care delivery. In other words, what is the value and benefits to patients of remote patient home monitoring?

    The answer to this will vary based upon the condition(s) you want to manage, but the patient benefits of using RPM generally include the following:

    • Keeping people healthy — This includes allowing people to reduce the need to leave their homes and travel to an organization to receive the services provided via remote patient home monitoring, which is particularly beneficial during the pandemic when social distancing is critical to maintaining safety.
    • Increased collaboration between patient and provider
    • Allowing the patient to be a more active participant in their care
    • Reducing the number of hospitalizations, readmissions, and hospital lengths of stay
    • Reducing patient overall costs — This includes not only healthcare costs but also costs associated with traveling to an organization to receive services.
    • Permitting older and disabled individuals to remain at home longer and delay or avoid moving into skilled nursing facilities

    Some patients will get on board when they hear that they will not need to leave their home as much to receive care. Others may only need to hear that remote patient home monitoring will reduce their expenses. You may even have some patients who sign up just because they are excited to try new technology.

  4. Provide Instructions on Remote Patient Home Monitoring Device Setup and Usage

    When onboarding new patients onto your RPM program, ensure that they clearly understand what is required to set up and use their device and where they should go for any technical assistance. Do not assume that instructions included with a device will be sufficient for all users. If there is any ambiguity or difficulty in setup and usage, patients may quickly grow frustrated and not remain fully engaged in or ultimately opt out of your program.

    What your organization will need to do to guide patients on how to set up and use their remote patient home monitoring devices will be determined by several factors. Perhaps the most significant is whether the devices use cellular or Bluetooth technology. A cellular device — with an embedded cellular modem — is typically simple to set up and use, only requiring patients to insert batteries and turn the device on. A Bluetooth device, on the other hand, requires the completion of more steps, which may include downloading and installing a smartphone app, connecting the device to the smartphone, and ensuring the smartphone can access Wi-Fi.

    How much work you will need to do to help patients complete these processes and troubleshoot issues that arise will depend upon the company you partner with to serve as your remote patient home monitoring vendor and the type of program you enter into with this partner. Some RPM device vendors will provide your organization with device setup instructions and then expect you to take the lead on helping patients going forward. Other vendors will be more active in supporting setup and answering questions that come up during setup and ongoing usage. Full-service programs (often associated with cellular devices) typically include a more active vendor that provides technical support while self-managed programs (often associated with Bluetooth devices) typically require organizations to handle the bulk of the work.

  5. Deliver Remote Patient Home Monitoring Education Via Multiple Channels

    It’s best to employ a variety of communication methods to cater to differing patient needs. For example, some patients may prefer an initial discussion about remote patient home monitoring in person, over the phone, or via videoconference. Others may want to receive information by direct mail, email, or through links to resources delivered via text message. Providing information on your organization's website about your program and specific devices, including setup and troubleshooting, can serve as a valuable reference for patients who are comfortable accessing information in this manner. For setup of more complex (i.e., Bluetooth) devices, consider posting or linking to videos from your website.

    When performing initial outreach to patients about your remote patient home monitoring program, ask if they prefer how to receive education. This will help them feel like they are in greater control of their experience and may alleviate some concerns about using a new technology. By making it as easy as possible for patients to join and remain active participants in your remote patient home monitoring program, you should be able to achieve and maintain success in delivering virtual care while streamlining operations, thus keeping costs and resource usage lower.

  6. Strengthen Remote Patient Home Monitoring Education

    Efforts to improve patient communication can include something as simple as revising language used to reduce possible confusion to more significant undertakings, such as developing new teaching resources and leveraging new communication channels. Regularly request feedback from patients about their experience with your remote patient home monitoring program, including where they thought education was strong and weak and any ideas they have for improvement. If patients stop using the device and opt out of the program, work to determine the reason(s) and explore whether you can make changes to how you provide education that could help avoid a similar fate for other patients.

    You should also ask staff who support your remote patient home monitoring program and are involved with patient education if they have recommendations for improvement or new ideas to enhance your education efforts. Even small enhancements may reap significant short- and long-term rewards for your RPM program.

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