Year after year, remote patient monitoring (RPM) has grown more common throughout the healthcare industry — and more necessary for meeting patient care goals, too. Often thought of as a standalone program for the at-home treatment of patients with chronic illness, remote patient monitoring solutions are now used to drive a growing number of care management models.
With that in mind, let’s take a brief look at the different types of programs that use RPM technology to drive patient care. And in the weeks to come, we’ll explore each of these RPM solutions in more detail.
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What Types of Clinical Care Models Use Remote Patient Monitoring Solutions?
“RPM today is still in its very beginning, despite all the years and sweat we’ve devoted into it,” as CareSimple CEO Michel Nadeau put it in a recent conversation. “But RPM is getting entrenched into a diverse set of clinical workflows, ready to be prescribed by physicians for their patients.”
So, what are these different clinical workflows that are increasingly leveraging RPM? From the relatively new concept of digital therapeutics to the well-established practice of hospital-at-home (HaH), here are four types of care management models that increasingly rely on remote patient monitoring solutions and technology to deliver more effective and successful patient care.
Population health management
Population health management has become a central pillar of care delivery. As a means to focus on the more efficient treatment an entire patient population, population health care models offer providers the chance to achieve better outcomes by emphasizing specific outcomes, measurements and standards of accountability within specific patient segments.
And chronic care management (CCM) is one of the most widely used examples of population health management. Reimbursed by Medicare since 2015, CCM is a care management model that helps providers achieve population-wide health goals for chronic conditions like congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and many others.
By enabling the regular collection, transmission and analysis of patients’ vital signs and other important physiologic data, remote patient monitoring solutions often serve as the foundation for CCM care. And by helping more closely coordinate care, RPM can also help improve the physician-patient relationship by providing greater continuity of care, as we explained in our white paper on RPM and population health management.
Remote patient monitoring technology is also increasingly used in the treatment of high-risk patients in other contexts than chronic care management. By using RPM to monitor the vital signs and other important data of each patient, doctors and care teams can better manage the health of high-risk patients in the highly critical period after they’re discharged from acute care.
Post-discharge care of this type is delivered in two phases. Transitional care management (TCM) reimburses billing practitioners for treating patients with a complex medical condition during their 30-day post-discharge period. And principal care management (PCM) covers the reimbursement of such high-risk patients during the subsequent period, from three to twelve months in total.
Remote patient monitoring is integral to both PCM and TCM, both of which treat high-risk patients with a single high-risk condition (as opposed to CCM, which is designed to treat patients with two or more chronic illnesses). Like CCM, the idea is to avoid readmissions and re-hospitalizations, as well as the development of comorbidities in these patients, or other deterioration in their health.
Using remote patient monitoring solutions in post-discharge care can also offer providers the benefit of more closely adhering to value-based care metrics and thereby improving their chances of reimbursement. You can read more about the specifics of transitional care management here, and principal care management here.
Hospital-at-home (HaH) is a type of care management model that leverages remote patient monitoring to deliver hospital-level care in a patient’s home or place of residence. In addition to promoting engagement and outcomes, HaH can also be a valuable tool in freeing up bed capacity and reducing the risk of in-hospital infection.
As discussed in the CareSimple Blog’s rundown of the different types of virtual care, HaH was introduced in 2002 by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, which went on to trademark Hospital at Home® in 2010. Today, hospital-at-home is also used a general term for the at-home care of senior patients who are resistant to hospitalization.
Like CCM, HaH is often deployed with patients suffering from serious injury or a chronic condition. Unlike CCM, though, it’s limited to those who are stable enough to safely avoid hospitalization. HAH was also designed to be used not only in a post-acute framework but also as a full substitute for hospital care.
As it’s delivered remotely and powered by 24/7 clinical service in the backend, HaH also makes significant use of RPM technology. We’ll have a more detailed overview of hospital-at-home in the weeks to come. In the meantime, check out our definition of virtual care for a more in-depth take on how HaH uses remote patient monitoring solutions to deliver patient care.
RPM solutions are also central to the delivery of digital therapeutics. The newest of these concepts, digital therapeutics is the use of telehealth and mHealth software, tools and applications to offer “a new category of medical interventions,” as per a February 2022 report from Xtelligent Healthcare Media.
The types of patient conditions that can fit under the umbrella of digital therapeutics are numerous. They include not just chronic conditions and serious injuries, but also other a diverse range of other treatments. These can include musculoskeletal (MSK) treatment like low back pain, and cognitive care relating to substance abuse, attention-deficit disorders and hyperactivity.
Although many digital therapeutics are in their early stages, experts predict rapid growth, with the Xtelligent report noting that the pandemic has accelerated adoption. Helping this trend is the potential of digital therapeutics to serve as a step therapy before more invasive action is taken, or as a means to help personalize care and avoid complications in the treatment of other conditions.
And, although a big part of its potential comes from the prospect of using technologies like AI, digital therapeutics also frequently leverage RPM and adjacent solutions to better provide data on patient progress. In addition, remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM) programs — similar to RPM and using similar medical devices like remote spirometers and weight monitors — is a means of delivering digital therapeutic care related to musculoskeletal and respiratory conditions.
Read our recent RTM success story for more info on how RTM and RPM solutions are helping a wider range of providers achieve better results. And stay tuned to the CareSimple blog for more insights and updates about digital therapeutics and its potential impact on healthcare.
Meeting future demands in patient care with RPM solutions
What’s the bottom line? As effective as remote patient monitoring solutions can be in delivering a standalone RPM program, it’s impact goes far beyond that. Today, thanks to a number of new care management models from CMS, RPM technology is being used to support more types of patient care than ever before.
“RPM today is almost like a form of digital therapeutics, providing outcomes without being a medication,” as Michel explained. “As physicians see the evidence of the outcomes and payers experience the cost reduction effects, RPM will quickly cement itself in all sorts of clinical uses … and CareSimple will be there to support it all.”
And if you’re looking for details on reimbursement for all the different types of RPM solutions, you can get the info you’re looking for with the CareSimple Reimbursement Tree.