It’s safe to say that the potential benefits of remote patient monitoring (RPM) extend to everyone involved in a patient’s care journey. RPM offers healthcare providers significant advantages when treating patients with chronic illnesses. It also supports Medicare and commercial payers by helping them understand high-risk patients in a way that could reduce costly hospitalizations and readmissions.
But patients also can experience several benefits. In addition to enabling them to manage their conditions from home, RPM has also been shown to deliver an “increased quality of life for patients” in some cases, according to a systematic review of clinical studies.
That only scratches the surface of why more patients across the U.S. are demanding access to RPM as well as other virtual care management models — and why the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is supporting that demand with more incentives for providers to adopt and implement remote monitoring systems. Here’s a closer look at 10 ways patients may experience the benefits of remote patient monitoring.
The comfort of at-home care delivery
Since the pandemic, the chance to receive hospital-quality care at home has transformed the nature of patient care. Especially for those with complex, chronic conditions, the ability to receive treatment and interact with clinicians from home is significantly more convenient, which can boost patient satisfaction.
Furthermore, many chronic care patients are in aging populations or are potentially physically disabled. For these people, the option to skip costly, inconvenient, and potentially impossible hospital visits in favor of at-home care delivery isn’t just convenient, but it could potentially improve quality of life.
RPM supports these individuals both as a standalone virtual care management model and as the core technological foundation for hospital in the home programs, which are designed as a complete substitute for acute hospital care.
A higher quality of healthcare
With the power of continuous monitoring, RPM offers a superior way of tracking essential patient data, giving providers a better understanding of each patient’s condition at any given time.
This emphasis on timelier, more active care is also reflected in other recent care models that use RPM technology. For instance, the CPT codes for principal care management, a care model that often uses RPM, specifically cover “frequent adjustments in the medication regimen.”
As providers are equipped with better information, patients who depend on their care to stay healthy and out of the hospital could experience higher quality care. For chronic care patients who require ongoing treatment often coordinated by multiple clinicians, informed and prepared healthcare professionals can more effectively assist them throughout their care journeys.
A new opportunity for self-management of care
Once a barrier to telehealth, computer literacy rates are at all-time highs today, even among seniors. An AARP national study released in 2020 found that 77% of aging Americans use a smartphone. Not only do folks of all ages have some kind of mobile device — like a tablet or phone — but millions of them also regularly track their activity with step monitors and other popular apps.
The best platforms for RPM include interface options that are easy and intuitive for all patients to access. Using a website or smartphone app, they can track the details of their own health daily. For some patients, that supports higher levels of enthusiasm and engagement that were difficult to achieve with more traditional in-person care models.
That said, some people will always remain reluctant or unable to use technology, no matter how user-friendly it is. Luckily, new devices like cellular-enabled blood pressure monitors provide an option that works without the need for a smartphone, tablet, or other device, extending the potential benefits of remote patient monitoring to patients who have yet to embrace advancements in mobile technology.
Greater oversight and communications
For patients who are already highly engaged with their care regimen, one of the biggest benefits of remote patient monitoring devices and platforms is the chance to communicate with care teams about critical concerns at nearly any time. For providers, this is a valuable way to improve patient-provider relationships, as well as collect more detailed data and feedback. And for patients, it means they’ll likely receive more support and education — key ingredients for successful outcomes.
This benefit also extends to those who were previously disengaged from their care journeys. Having a streamlined communication channel with their caregivers can empower them to have more agency over their health and develop more interest in staying on track with treatment plans.
Better support for patients with chronic conditions
A chronic disease diagnosis can be a tough pill to swallow. According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), heart disease and stroke account for a third of all deaths in the U.S. each year. But beyond deadly outcomes, such chronic illnesses are complex to navigate.
Indeed, chronic conditions usually require rigorous therapies or lengthy hospital stays. RPM programs reduce the need for frequent doctor visits and simplify care plans in a way that can give people more confidence in their treatment. Regular communication with providers and the ability to monitor one’s own health with smartphone apps also help nurture a sense of empowerment and hope.
Better patient-provider relationships
As one study on patient satisfaction with RPM pointed out, “a strong patient–provider relationship must be maintained for continued transparency of the patient’s state of health, care pathways, comorbidity monitoring, and illness prevention” in any type of healthcare delivery system.
Remote monitoring systems help nurture this relationship by offering a greater ability for patients to communicate with their doctors, nurses, and care teams. And given the stresses and challenges related to chronic care, that bond can be not only a source of comfort for patients facing complex conditions, but also a better way of engaging them in their care regimen — boosting the potential for positive patient outcomes in the process.
Greater availability of healthcare in rural communities
People who live in underserved areas “are more likely than urban residents to die prematurely from all of the five leading causes of death,” notes the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP).
One of the most fundamental advantages of remote home care delivery — and the driving force behind the U.S. government’s health equity campaign to expand telehealth access into rural areas — is its power to bring quality healthcare to remote communities.
On top of extending clinical care into the home with RPM devices like blood pressure monitors and RPM weight scales, telehealth technology also enables patients and clinicians to connect in real time, on a regular basis, even in locations that may not be covered by cellular networks. For many patients, this isn’t just a convenient way to access care, but often one of the only available options.
Better access to specialty care
In addition to extending primary care access to underserved regions, telehealth services like RPM can connect patients with specialists in different parts of the country. And, given the scarcity of healthcare professionals like cardiologists or pulmonologists in many rural communities, this access could make a critical difference for patients with chronic illnesses and other complex health conditions.
A positive influence on mental health
The underlying theme for many of these patient benefits of remote patient monitoring is comfort — and the improved engagement, satisfaction, and positive outcomes that often go along with it. With the knowledge that their condition is being continuously monitored by diligent clinicians, the most at-risk patients can rest a little easier.
That peace of mind doesn’t just offer a source of comfort — it also can support mental health. This benefit could help fend off the risk of frequent mental health comorbidities like anxiety and depression — both chronic conditions in and of themselves. For instance, the American Heart Association has found that successful application of RPM corresponds to lower patient blood pressure compared to more traditional models of care.
A new opportunity for self-management of care
When it comes to accessing healthcare, cost is usually a top consideration. For many patients, financial concerns can cause a great deal of stress, and potentially even pose as roadblocks to proper care. The CMS codes for remote patient monitoring and RPM-adjacent care models help ensure that this critical part of chronic care is covered by insurance (as much as 80% after deductibles).
Whether it’s used as a standalone care model, in support of hospital in the home, or alongside additional care models to support patients with chronic conditions, RPM offers patients ways to receive high-quality care without spending money on gas and wasting time on travel. And many patients also face potential financial consequences of a hospital or emergency room visit, giving added appeal to more accessible care made possible with RPM.
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