The use of remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices in healthcare has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade, and especially in just the past few years. There are a number of reasons for this, including:
The COVID-19 pandemic. The need to treat more patients at home during the COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase in remote care. One analysis found an 38x increase in the use of telehealth services from 2020 to 2021. Today, even as COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations decline (perhaps only temporarily), the new options for virtual visits are expected to remain in place.
Greater demand. More patients are demanding the convenience of at-home care via telehealth services like RPM and remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM), especially those with chronic and heart conditions. This was a healthcare trend even before COVID-19, and is expected to continue after the pandemic. “Regardless of what happens after the public health emergency (PHE) ends, several studies show that demand for telehealth is at an all-time high,” reports Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).
New reimbursement options. Recognizing the important of remote patient monitoring programs in supporting patient outcomes, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) now offers reimbursement for RPM services that was unavailable just a few years ago. Private payer coverage for the use of remote patient monitoring systems has also been expanding to correspond with this trend.
Better, more advanced RPM technology. The development of new and better medical technology for remote monitoring at home has enabled more healthcare organizations and providers to support patient outcomes with RPM care programs. And perhaps the best illustration of this is the newest generation of user-friendly remote patient monitoring devices and services available from companies such as CareSimple.
What type of remote patient monitoring devices are available for providers?
As to that last point, many remote patient monitoring devices are now available to help meet the requisites of remote care as defined by CMS, or simply to help meet demand. The best of these new RPM devices let patients upload their information into a clinical portal and EHR/EMR in near real-time.
The most common RPM devices are used to monitor vital signs, like blood pressure monitors, blood glucometers and pulse oximeters. Other RPM devices such as weight scales and spirometers capture additional patient data that’s vital to care. Here’s a quick look at these main types of RPM devices.
RPM Blood Pressure (BP) Monitor
One of the most common features of an RPM program is the monitoring of vital signs to better manage chronic conditions at home. To this end, specially designed RPM devices are available to monitor a patient’s blood pressure, to better alert healthcare providers if sudden changes occur — a particularly important indicator for people with chronic heart conditions or hypertension. Learn more about RPM blood pressure monitors.
RPM Pulse Oximeter
Just as an RPM BP monitor measures blood pressure, another RPM device — a remote pulse oximeter — can remotely monitor other vital signs for the more efficient management of chronic conditions at home. An RPM pulse oximeter can monitor both heart rate and blood oxygen levels, which are both critical indicators for patients with chronic diseases like heart failure, lung cancer, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Read more about RPM pulse oximeters.
Remote Patient Monitoring Weight Scale
A remote patient monitoring scale is a fast, easy and accurate way to remotely measure body weight without an office visit. Regular weight readings can give a clinical team faster access to information that’s essential for care management. Sudden weight gain or other changes can be a red alert for certain chronic conditions (particularly heart conditions), offering the chance to intervene earlier if a patient’s condition appears to be deteriorating. Learn more about RPM weight scales.
Remote Patient Monitoring Spirometer
An RPM spirometer is a medical device that provides a fast and easy way to measure forced expiratory volume (FEV) and other data concerning a patient’s pulmonary (lung) function. Helpful for physicians and care providers who are managing patients with chronic conditions like COPD and congestive heart failure (CHF), remote spirometers can also be used for reimbursement for RTM care in some instances. Read more about remote patient monitoring spirometers.
Remote Patient Monitoring Glucometer
A remote patient monitoring glucometer, or blood glucose meter, is used to provide information on a patient’s blood glucose levels — a critical health indicator for diabetic and pre-diabetic patients. An easier, more convenient way to monitor blood sugar levels means patients are better equipped to follow doctor recommendations. It also gives providers better info to make treatment adjustments. Read more about remote patient monitoring glucometers.
Connectivity in RPM devices
Before implementing any RPM technology, healthcare organizations should have a clear understanding of the connectivity mechanism that they, and their patients, will have to use.
Most RPM devices use Bluetooth® (BTLE) connectivity. Usually referred to as peripherals, these BTLE RPM devices can be cost effective. But they also require the use of a hub — whether a tablet, smartphone or standalone device — to capture readings from the devices to transmit to the cloud.
If that sounds complicated, it’s because it is. Bluetooth may assume a level of technological access and familiarity that some patients may not have. An arguably more modern and patient-friendly approach is cellular connectivity. As the name implies, cellular devices are RPM devices with built-in cellular transmission capabilities.
Cellular RPM devices don’t require a traditional hub to transmit data. No app is needed; no pairing, setup or WIFI required. That means a greater level of access for patients, and a potential elimination of technology-based exclusions.
Did you know? CareSimple uses cellular technology in our RPM device technology.
Looking for more guidance on remote patient monitoring devices?
If your healthcare organization is looking for ways to leverage RPM devices for patient care, we may be able to help! Contact us now to connect to a CareSimple specialist.