This article is a follow-up to a previous article where we discussed the benefits of RPM service, such as reducing readmissions and ER visits. We also discussed regulatory guidance and billing codes in our RPM Fact Sheet. This article outlines items to consider when choosing an RPM vendor.
Adoption of telehealth and patient-generated health data has increased over the last few years and exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote physiologic monitoring (RPM) is a service that virtually collects patients’ biometric information, such as weight, blood pressure, heart rate, pulse oximeter and blood glucose, via the end-to-end electronic transfer of real-time data. Regardless of how this data is shared between patient and provider (health apps, digital devices or RPM), clinical access to this data results in better decision-making and improved clinical outcomes.
Before looking at RPM technologies and vendors, it is important to identify goals you are trying to achieve with RPM. Describe your target patient population and what RPM will accomplish for your patients. Keep in mind that it will be essential for your team to develop a protocol to engage patients in your RPM program. We also know that any RPM program is most successful in conjunction with individual patient care plans, so consider how these will work together to improve health outcomes. For example, do you want to develop a program that specifically supports patients with frequent ER visits due to diabetes, cardiac events or COPD? What are the specific barriers and support needs for those patients and how would RPM improve care and health outcomes?
Once you have identified your RPM goals, you will want to explore different technology and vendor options. While choosing a vendor, it is very important to understand the nature of their product(s). Here are a few items to keep top of mind.
There are several good products in the marketplace, but not all may integrate with your electronic health record (EHR). In some cases, clinicians’ confidence in a tool and seamless workflow can substitute lack of product integration with the EHR. However, strategic planning to integrate with your EHR at some point is ideal. An additional consideration might be whether clinicians can review the data when they are not physically on-site.
Is the product HIPAA-complaint? RPM is an additional piece of technology and flow of patient information to which HIPAA applies and therefore must be included in your security risk analysis. Other items to consider are whether the vendor has experienced any data breaches. If so, they must take appropriate steps to prevent further breaches and explain to you their strategies to do so.
The success of RPM depends highly on its user-friendly design, utility and patient engagement. The product must be easy to understand for older adults so they can operate the device properly. The vendor should be able to demonstrate all of these requirements through case studies.
Diagnostic Accuracy and Capability
The quality of data collected impacts clinical decisions. Because clinical decisions are made with results of RPM data, accuracy and reliability are essential. Ask vendors about this.
Dashboard and Process to Share Trending Data
Your clinicians and care teams need to know how incoming data will display and what their processes will be to best review and use data to optimally manage patients.
Given the high-risk status of your patient population and the nature of technology involved, the extent and timeliness of a vendor’s customer service is critical. The vendor should have a dedicated team to provide training and support as needed.
Scalability of Product
The equipment you are considering could be very eye-catching, but if it takes time to procure product and service for an increase in patient load, then it may not be practical. Vendor should also allow for reduction in operational scale, if needed.
Outsource and Insource Considerations
It is critical to understand your organization’s information technology (IT) and staffing structure needed to deliver effective RPM services. There are many vendors in the marketplace offering many different products and services either singly or in combination. Each vendor may have different outsource and insource suggestions and offerings in a variety of product packages. For example, some vendors provide hardware as well as call center service, while others may include hardware and software to do telehealth quick interventions in addition to RPM, while others may provide only software and recommend hardware to purchase. Some vendors may just allow you to monitor blood sugar, while others may have a package that includes blood sugar, blood pressure and oximeter.
The success of RPM depends on the internet availability and connectivity of the device. Some of the equipment may require broadband internet service at home.
Questions about any of these considerations? Please contact Comagine Health Senior Improvement Advisor Seema Rathor at firstname.lastname@example.org.