As remote patient monitoring solutions expand, organizations should take steps to improve network connectivity.

Reducing patient visits and improving long-term patient health motivate healthcare organizations to embrace remote patient monitoring. However without the healthcare network to support healthcare monitoring devices, organizations can’t fully support remote monitoring programs.

Reducing hospital visits by remotely monitoring patients helps healthcare organizations keep their overall costs down and increase value-based care, according to a recent KLAS report.

Remote patient monitoring replaces on-site visits mainly to manage chronic diseases and follow-up recovery care. This results in the increased productivity of clinicians who don’t have to treat as many patients, and saves money by reducing ER visits.

“The majority of study participants are very pleased with the success of their RPM programs. Most have achieved measurable outcomes, particularly when it comes to keeping patients out of the hospital (i.e., admits, re-admits, and ER visits),” said report authors.

“Even those earliest in their RPM journeys share anecdotal victories, and only a few hesitate to call their efforts a success—not because of failure, but rather because of blurred lines between vendor monitoring and their own outreach work. Heart disease and COPD are the leading use cases, but organizations are branching out to less acute chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension.”

Networked remote patient monitoring tools often transmit data at regular intervals to communicate patient vitals.  The data is then transferred to the provider organization. These monitoring tools often use cellular antennas to transmit so data can be constantly shared as the patient moves through everyday life.

KLAS Identified four key features organizations need to build their remote patient monitoring solutions around:

  1. Program design: Developing a strategic RPM plan with specific goals and operational support and putting it into motion.
  2. Data collection: Preparing individual patients by delivering monitoring technology to their homes (and later retrieving it).
  3. Care management: Managing patient care based on data transmitted from patients’ homes.
  4. Patient activation: Providing education and communication tools that facilitate patients’ engagement in their care.

Many healthcare organizations are experiencing success with their remote patient monitoring programs which means that these programs are expected to grow significantly in the coming year. The report found that 68 percent of healthcare provider organizations have plans to expand their remote monitoring solutions.

However, some healthcare organizations can’t grow their network infrastructure fast enough to keep up with the demand.

“I think we are tripping over our own feet,” said a telehealth director to KLAS report authors. “Healthcare systems often do. We are trying to rally a midsize health system around all of the changes involved in this process. We have had great success stories and outcomes. We have some data that proves the outcomes. The ROI is extremely high. The issue is just figuring out where we should go next and how to expand our efforts.”

Technology is one of the key factors going in to remote patient monitoring according to the report. A network that does not provide consistent and reliable connections. Organizations also need to choose a RPM vendor they can communicate with and have confidence in to fix connectivity issues.

Technology, communication, and support issues can hinder patients from using remote monitoring tools or can result in clinicians receiving the wrong information and incorrectly reading a patient’s vital signs and misdiagnosing them. The KLAS report suggests that organizations find an RPM vendor who communicates well and has a clear troubleshooting policy for technology malfunctions.

While some organizations still experience connectivity issues, remote monitoring connectivity has improved as the demand for it has increased. Leveraging Bluetooth and cellular methods for connectivity has improved remote patient and clinician communication.

The survey concluded that as healthcare organizations expand their remote patient monitoring solutions, consulting with vendors to determine which one fits an individual provider organization’s needs is key to success. While many remote patient monitoring vendors offer similar services, finding the vendor that provides support in the areas needed and communicates will help providers monitor remote patients successfully.

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