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Epion Health

Is RPM the Missing Link in Your Patient Engagement Strategy?

Telehealth. Telemedicine. Virtual care. Remote patient monitoring. Mobile health. Though these terms all sound similar, each is its own distinct application. 

Telehealth, for example, consists of basic telecommunication tools, such as phone calls, text messages, patient portals and emails that allow patients to communicate with their providers. Conversely, telemedicine is the practice of medicine using technology to deliver care at a distance. 

A virtual care environment via telehealth might include remote patient monitoring (RPM), video conferencing and mobile health (mHealth) or a combination of these capabilities. Although telehealth seems to get most of the attention in discussions on virtual care, RPM complements it by enabling physicians to receive data about their patients in real-time. 

The Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) defines RPM as personal health and medical data collection from an individual in one location which is transmitted via electronic communication technologies to a provider in a different location for use in care and related support. By using devices to track essential vital signs, patient data can be collected for numerous health-related metrics, including blood pressure, blood sugar levels, electrocardiograms, heart rate, vital signs and weight.

The Broad Benefits of RPM 

The global RPM systems market is projected to be worth over $1.7 billion by 2027. As the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) notes, it’s increasingly been adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic for several reasons, including policy changes, contactless care, ease of use and improved patient monitoring that leads to a reduction in hospital readmissions. Reduced readmissions are especially beneficial for healthcare providers in decreasing or eliminating steep financial penalties under value-based contracts. 

Healthcare providers of all sizes, from small physician practices to large health systems, can employ RPM to treat different populations, including individuals with chronic conditions. RPM programs can be utilized to provide educational content and remind patients to collect their vitals, thereby enabling physicians to leverage that data to provide patients with better feedback about their condition(s) and treatment. 

As Epion Health’s chief technology officer, Matt Racki, mentioned in a recent article published in Physicians Practice, RPM helps improve patient adherence and outcomes, which reduces overall healthcare spending. By increasing adherence, an RPM program can ultimately drive the patient engagement that leads to long-term patient retention—which can improve a practice’s bottom line. 

Additional advantages of RPM include ease of access to patient data, earlier interventions, delay or prevention of complications from disease and a reduction in long-term costs associated with complications, such as the costs for evaluations, testing or procedures. RPM services don’t necessitate interactive audio-video and virtual visits and are reimbursed by Medicare without any additional requirements on the originating site of care. 

For outpatient physician practices, RPM programs offer another way to increase revenue, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. They reduce the risk of infection in the office and allow providers to attract new patients living in rural or remote areas. For patients, the use of RPM allows them to easily track their health from their smartphone or other mobile device and receive personalized care advice and recommendations tailored to their specific needs. 

A Valuable RPM Resource 

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, almost 90 percent of providers reported either investing in or evaluating an investment in RPM technologies and services. More than 43 percent of clinicians believe RPM adoption will be on par with in-patient monitoring in five years. 

More patients are on board with RPM, too. A survey from Deloitte found that roughly 15 percent of healthcare consumers bought a fitness tracker like a smartwatch for at-home self-management during the pandemic, and a similar study reported that four of every five consumers say they’re in favor of RPM, especially for monitoring of chronic diseases. 

Experts from Optimize Health and Nixon Gwilt Law recently hosted a webinar on RPM trends and best practices.  They discussed how RPM programs work within providers’ existing workflows, the process for reimbursement and more. Watch this informative webinar today, and contact us to learn how to make RPM work for you!