The use of electronic health records (EHRs) is growing and is expected to rise from a market size of USD 30.8 billion in 2022 to USD 47.8 billion by 2032. The main reason for this growth is EHRs’ popularity among smaller-scale healthcare providers, such as physician practices and clinics. EHRs compile patient health information in a digital format, providing a comprehensive view of an individual’s medical history. Meanwhile, remote patient monitoring (RPM) technologies enable continuous monitoring of patients’ health data from a distance, facilitating timely medical interventions. The synergy between the two technologies achieved through EHR integration with RPM promises to streamline operations for healthcare providers, enhance patient care quality, and bolster healthcare services’ efficiency. 

Reasons for EHR Integration with RPM

A study by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology highlights the significance of EHR systems, noting that 96% of hospitals had adopted certified EHR technology by 2019. Several factors encourage the viability of integrating EHR with RPM. These include:

  • Enhanced Patient Care Through Integration

Enhanced patient care is a driving force of many healthcare innovations, and integrating EHRs with RPM services enables the medical community to achieve this. This fusion allows for data generated by RPM devices to become instantly accessible within the patient’s centralized digital health record. This accessibility facilitates the transformation of raw data into actionable insights, enabling practitioners to detect and respond to patient needs more rapidly and with greater precision. By doing so, they can prevent emergencies from developing.

  • Streamlined Healthcare Provider Workflows

With EHR and RPM systems working in tandem, EHR integration with RPM streamlines healthcare provider workflows. Healthcare professionals can avoid the time-consuming task of toggling between different systems to access patient data. This seamless connection ensures that the latest patient health information is always at the healthcare provider’s fingertips, improving the accuracy and accessibility of patient data.

Read: eClinicalWorks showcases how AI streamlines workflows in 30+ integrations at HIMSS24

This widespread adoption underscores the potential impact of integrating remote patient monitoring technologies into existing EHR systems, setting the stage for a more interconnected and efficient healthcare ecosystem.

The Origins of EHR-RPM Integration

Challenges and milestones have marked the journey towards EHR integration with RPM. Initially, hurdles included compatibility issues between devices and EHR systems, data security concerns, and the absence of standardized protocols. These early obstacles demanded innovative solutions, such as developing third-party intermediaries and custom-built bridges to facilitate communication between systems.

Over time, advancements in technology improved the integration process. The development of open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and the emergence of EHR marketplaces revolutionized how RPM systems interface with EHRs. These changes allow more straightforward, direct integration, enabling a seamless data flow and improved system interoperability.

A report by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) shows the increasing adoption of standards like FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) is enhancing the ability of healthcare technologies to work together, simplifying the integration of RPM devices with EHR systems.

Different Kinds of Integrations 

In EHR and RPM integration, the primary methodologies are device and software integrations. 

  • Device Integrations

This type of integration constitutes a direct data flow from the monitoring devices to the EHR system, enabling healthcare providers to access real-time health metrics within the patient’s electronic records. This direct approach supports an immediate, streamlined data transfer, enhancing the timeliness of patient care.

  • Software Integrations

Conversely, software integrations involve a more complex route, where data from remote patient monitoring devices is first transmitted to a specialized portal or intermediary platform. From there, the information is relayed to the EHR system. This method offers the flexibility to process and analyze data before it becomes part of the patient’s official health record, adding a layer of interpretation that can be crucial for patient management.

Read: Remote Patient Monitoring: Top 4 Physician Concerns

  • The Role of APIs

APIs and the availability of EHR marketplaces improve the integration process. APIs enable seamless communication between different software platforms, making integrating RPM data into EHR systems more fluid and less cumbersome. Meanwhile, EHR marketplaces offer a centralized location for healthcare providers to find and implement compatible RPM solutions directly within their existing EHR framework. 

According to a study by the American Medical Association, the adoption of digital health tools, including those for remote monitoring, has doubled since 2016, emphasizing the growing importance of efficient integration solutions.

Benefits of Integration

EHR integration with RPM offers healthcare organizations several advantages for patients and providers.

  • Unified Data Access

Impact on Healthcare Providers: Offers a holistic view of patient health by integrating RPM-generated data with traditional medical records.

Impact on Patient Care: Facilitates a more nuanced understanding of patient health, enabling personalized and proactive care strategies.

  • Improved Clinical Decision-Making

Impact on Healthcare Providers: Empowers healthcare professionals with real-time data, allowing for swift, informed decisions.

Impact on Patient Care: Potentially improves patient outcomes through timely interventions, crucial for managing chronic conditions.

  • Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness

Impact on Healthcare Providers: Automating data flow into patient records saves significant time and resources, reducing administrative burdens.

Impact on Patient Care: Minimizes the risk of errors in patient records, enhancing the accuracy and reliability of patient care.

Challenges or Barriers to Integration

Despite the clear benefits, EHR integration with RPM can be challenging. Technical complexities may arise as healthcare providers begin exploring the integration of diverse systems and technologies.

  • Interoperability situations

Interoperability scenarios occur when different systems need help communicating and exchanging data seamlessly, which can hamper the effectiveness of integration efforts.

Read: Aligning RPM and Value-Based Care for Cost Savings and Improved Outcomes

  • Vendor-EHR Compatibility 

Healthcare providers may need help ensuring that their chosen RPM solutions integrate smoothly with their existing EHR systems. The diversity of EHR systems, each with its unique specifications and requirements, adds another layer of complexity to achieving a successful integration.

  • Security and Compliance Considerations 

With the integration of RPM data into EHR systems, ensuring the privacy and security of patient information becomes more complex. Healthcare providers must navigate stringent regulations, such as HIPAA in the United States, to protect patient data and ensure compliance.

The AMA survey also reveals that data privacy and security are major concerns among physicians regarding digital health tools, highlighting the importance of addressing these issues in EHR-RPM integration.

Recent Policy Changes Regarding EHR with RPM 

Recent policy changes have significantly influenced EHR integration with RPM, with the Cures Act being a prominent example. This legislation emphasizes the need for seamless patient data access and interoperability among healthcare technologies. By mandating that patient data must be easily accessible and shareable across platforms, the Cures Act has paved the way for more straightforward EHR and RPM integration. 

Read: Breaking Down the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR)

This regulatory shift aims to eliminate barriers to data exchange and interoperability, thus enabling healthcare providers to offer more coordinated and efficient patient care. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology provides insights into how the Cures Act promotes interoperability and patient access, highlighting its impact on the healthcare sector.

The Promise of Seamless Integration

The integration of EHR with RPM services promises to enhance patient care, streamline provider workflows, and improve the overall efficiency of health services. The ongoing refinement of APIs, the expansion of EHR marketplaces, and supportive policy changes like the Cures Act will further drive this transformation. This progress holds the promise of a healthcare future where seamless data integration supports more informed, efficient, and patient-centered care.

For more information about EHR integration with RPM and to discover how RemetricHealth can support your adoption of these technologies, please contact us to schedule a demonstration.