For years, primary care physicians (PCPs) have juggled challenges such as antiquated systems, rigid compliance requirements, physician burnout, medical staff shortages, and the emphasis on financial efficiencies versus necessary tests and treatments. The rise of remote patient monitoring (RPM) solutions promises respite from several of these issues, but not all RPM programs are created equal, and multiple misconceptions exist about the concept. Research conducted for McKesson Medical-Surgical in late 20201 highlighted the features and capabilities PCPs really want from a remote patient monitoring solution.
Administrative work is a massive burden for most PCPs and their staff teams. According to a report published in the American College of Physicians Annals of Internal Medicine, PCPs spent more than 16 minutes of each patient encounter working in the electronic health record (EHR) system. According to the McKesson survey, an RPM solution that populates data directly to patient EHRs is the first choice for PCPs for this reason. This direct route would cut down substantially on the work of transferring information manually. However, since most EHR systems don’t support this kind of connectivity, making it happen requires an RPM vendor who can build the connection.
Data-Driven Triage and Alerts
In response to the survey, several PCPs mentioned a desire to get alerts based on incoming data that allowed them to triage patients. Some suggested implementing a patient monitoring system using artificial intelligence (AI) to sift through the data to find outliers that need clinical attention. Good news, there are currently available solutions that offer data-driven triage supported by qualified nurses or medical assistants.
When an RPM vendor’s services include unlimited first-level patient support, it frees up clinical personnel from needing to investigate every notification. If a patient has simply forgotten to turn on the device or has an issue with a Wi-Fi outage, the vendor’s representatives typically deal with it. The PCP’s practice only needs to get involved when medical attention is required.
This factor is significant for smaller practices, which voiced concern about being overwhelmed with patient data needing their attention.
Upgradable Devices and Software
Too many PCPs have bought expensive solutions only to find they don’t deliver the features they need. In some instances, the health monitoring devices are not upgradeable and become increasingly obsolete as new updates become available. The study showed that while pulse oximetry and weight are essential data for PCPs, blood pressure readings are considered the most critical measurement. Respondents also said that the ability to add different measurements such as blood glucose, heart rate monitoring, EKG and IRN readings was of prime importance in their choice of an RPM vendor.
Additionally, PCPs mentioned the importance of vendor support for distributing and collecting remote patient monitoring devices and teaching patients and caregivers how to use them.
Data Privacy and Protection
Respondents raised concerns over the risk of receiving patient data and whether it could open them up to liability issues. Many PCPs are concerned about data privacy and protection and their ability to comply with HIPAA regulations when using an RPM platform. This is a legitimate concern, because even when patient devices are FDA-approved, unless the vendor is FDA-registered and the software and portal are also FDA-approved, the program may not be compliant. This issue makes it vital to choose a system from a reputable vendor operating a HIPAA-compliant, FDA-approved portal.
Robust Financial Benefits
Before PCPs expect to invest in a patient monitoring system, they need to see evidence of the robust financial benefits the system offers. The costs of buying patient devices and the demands on staff time are significant concerns, especially for smaller practices. Unless the vendor’s monitoring staff is adequately qualified, reimbursement can be elusive.
For example, a prospective client explained how he recently signed a one-year contract with an RPM vendor. He quickly discovered that instead of getting a comprehensive service that included clinical personnel, his staff had to invest a significant amount of time. Without suitably qualified people to manage the program, monitor the patient’s data and trends, address alerts, and track patient compliance with the program, no reimbursement was forthcoming. The entire process was a waste of his time and money.
The Bottom Line
PCPs want an all-inclusive Remote Patient Monitoring solution supported by clinical services that enable them to deliver better patient care while supporting reimbursement revenue. Remote patient monitoring is especially handy for helping patients with chronic disease to avoid ER visits and hospital admissions, supporting improved outcomes, satisfaction, and engagement.
RemetricHealth offers a remote patient monitoring solution that is backed by qualified nursing and medical staff who implement and manage the program on behalf of your PCP practice, freeing you up to handle only medically critical cases.
If you have any additional suggestions for features and capabilities you’d want to see in a remote patient monitoring solution please contact us, or click here to schedule a demonstration.
- December 2020, Medical Marketing Research Inc. conducted a series of in-depth qualitative interviews for McKesson Medical-Surgical concerning remote patient monitoring (RPM). There were 15 physician interviews conducted.