Over the past two pandemic years, the medical community discovered just how quickly it could transform health care delivery when necessary. The rapid release of COVID-19 vaccines, collaborative global data sharing, and the surge in virtual care are all proof of the pudding. The coronavirus experience also hastened the shift to value-based care, particularly in accountable care organizations (ACOs), shared savings plans, and other bodies striving to improve patient outcomes. By deploying remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices that offer clinical monitoring services, ACOs and other value-based care organizations can reap game-changing benefits*.
Increased Treatment Compliance
Effective disease management depends heavily on treatment compliance and medication adherence. One study showed that while 90% of U.S. participants believed medicines save lives, only 9% actually followed prescribed treatment protocols. Despite their belief, almost 84% of patients are noncompliant in one way or another.
One-third of patients don’t fill prescriptions. Others forget or miss doses, stop taking medication, or misuse it. A new study shows that 16% of hospital readmissions are related to medication non-adherence. However, when a patient has a health monitoring device that is clinically monitored by a trained healthcare professional, early intervention can improve compliance and result in better medication adherence and treatment outcomes.
Optimal Chronic Disease Management
Chronic disease management swallows a huge portion of U.S. annual healthcare spending. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 51.8% of American adults had at least one chronic condition in 2018, while 27.2% had multiple chronic conditions. Monitoring patients remotely using RPM and overseeing their adherence to treatment helps ACOs manage chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease better.
By gathering and analyzing wellness parameters such as blood glucose and blood pressure levels measured by a health monitoring device, clinical monitoring personnel can keep a close watch on the patient’s condition. They can anticipate potential risks, alert the patient, and arrange a medical intervention if required.
Lower Mortality Rates
Chronic diseases kill around 41 million people annually worldwide, and in the U.S., treatment non-adherence is estimated to cause approximately 125,000 deaths each year. RPM permits ACOs to effectively monitor and manage these issues, as well as acute conditions, regardless of a patient’s location. Since 85% of the deaths caused by non-communicable diseases occur in rural areas where healthcare providers are sparse, this factor alone enables RPM to reduce patient mortality rates.
Fewer Hospital Readmissions
Hospital readmissions impose a considerable financial burden on the U.S. healthcare system. Readmission is expensive, as well as being detrimental to both the patient and the institution. A report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality shows the average readmission cost is $15,200 per patient. As of 2018, 3.8 million adult patients were readmitted to U.S. hospitals within a typical 30-day period.
A 2020 review that analyzed 91 RPM studies conducted between 2015 and 2020 demonstrated that RPM reduced admissions, severity, and length of stay in almost 50% of cases. Further research indicated that studies reporting proactive monitoring by an RPM nurse or other dedicated professional were more successful overall than those without this feature. Every time readmissions decline, both patients and healthcare providers benefit substantially.
By identifying and monitoring high-risk patients and overseeing the provision of a comprehensive virtual care plan, providers can decrease the number of patients requiring readmission to hospitals. Through automated medication reminders, real-time alerting, and monitoring by clinical personnel, ACOs and other value-based care organizations can follow a patient’s treatment compliance and arrange medical interventions before an emergency occurs.
Reduced Healthcare Costs
The high price of medical care is a prime factor in U.S. healthcare costs, swallowing 90% of healthcare spending. Eighty-six percent of that goes to managing chronic diseases, amounting to $3.7 trillion a year. RPM cuts the cost of healthcare by monitoring patients on an ongoing basis and providing real-time data to ACOs. This reduces the need for costly in-person visits, optimizes medication adherence, and improves treatment outcomes.
Results of a study of 3100 COVID-19 patients published in October 2021 projected that remote patient monitoring could potentially result in reduced per-patient costs of $11,472 compared with standard care, as well as gains of 0.013 quality-adjusted life-years. The widespread adoption of RPM by ACOs could save the U.S. as much as $6 billion annually by bringing healthcare home to patients.
More Healthcare Affordability
A 2022 National Debt Survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that half of U.S. adults have difficulty affording healthcare costs. This often prevents them from getting the care they need, even with insurance.
Remote patient monitoring increases healthcare affordability by reducing the number of in-person visits required. This not only saves patients from paying high medical fees, but eliminates the transportation cost, potential loss of wages for time off work, and the costs associated with child- or eldercare during their absence.
Rural patients are particularly hard-hit by these problems, but with RPM, ACOs can minimize the financial barriers while still allowing them to receive care wherever they live. Meanwhile, providers can still charge a fee for service or generate revenue through Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.
Enhanced Access to Healthcare
RPM notifies patients and ACOs about fluctuations in health parameters. This enables providers to address issues before they reach a crisis stage. Devices that measure heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, oxygen, and blood glucose can help avert emergencies and enable patients to remain vigilant without regular in-person visits. This saves them time, money, and inconvenience and delivers enhanced access to healthcare.
Superior Staff Management
The healthcare system revolves around adequate staffing, and, since the pandemic, medical staff shortages have become particularly challenging. The growing scarcity of health care workers is being called the nation’s top patient safety concern. A 2021 Mercer report on the U.S. healthcare labor market projects the shortages will rise to almost 750,000 by 2025.
Remote patient monitoring benefits ACOs by helping providers prioritize care delivery and enabling them to triage patients based on real-time data gleaned from the health monitoring devices. Many RPM tools integrate with provider EMRs, further reducing the administrative burden. This optimizes clinical efficiencies, leverages a team-based care model, and combats staff shortages.
Upgraded Infection Prevention
Medical institutions are well-known for spreading communicable diseases and hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). Statistics from the CDC show approximately 687,000 HAIs occurred in U.S. hospitals in a single year, with a mortality rate of 72,000.
RPM helps to contain this problem because vulnerable patients no longer need to be present on the premises as often. Avoiding in-person visits eliminates the risk of unnecessary exposure for immunocompromised patients and reduces the burden on ACOs and other value-based care organizations.
Amplified Patient Satisfaction
RPM offers patients invaluable reassurance that someone is looking out for their well-being. Patient satisfaction is an important and commonly used indicator for measuring health care quality that affects clinical outcomes, patient retention, and medical malpractice claims. It also impacts the administration of timely, patient-centered health care.
Additionally, patient satisfaction is one of four key success factors for ACOs, with patients given Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys to assess the quality of their experience. Research by the University of Pittsburgh shows that 90% of survey respondents reported increased satisfaction and compliance with RPM.
Improved Patient Outcomes
Implementing RPM helps improve patient outcomes over the long term. By detecting unstable vitals and concerning behavioral patterns, RPM enables providers to adjust care regimens or work with patients to adopt lifestyle changes that can significantly improve their health. It allows doctors to predict and address health problems before they become emergencies.
In a survey conducted by KLAS Research and the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), 13% of respondents reported that RPM improved their medication adherence, while another 13% reported enhanced health and wellness.
Remote patient monitoring is transforming the healthcare industry and is on track to become a standard of care instead of just an add-on. RPM helps ACOs and other value-based care organizations achieve their desired performance metrics, decreases readmissions and unnecessary spending, and provides patients more affordable access and better overall healthcare. RPM services that include dedicated professional monitoring deliver higher success rates than services without this benefit. With the RPM market projected to reach $31.3 billion by 2023, ACOs can expect innovation and acceptance to continue growing.
For more information on how our clinically-monitored RPM solutions can help your ACO deliver quality care and achieve excellent results, please contact us.
*This information provides updated information previously covered in this blog post.