Introduction to Remote Patient Monitoring

What is Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)?

It’s a system where an electronic device is given to a patient to wear for measuring their vitals and transmitting that information to their doctor’s office. These regular updates lead to better outcomes for patient health.

Why is RPM needed?

Chronic disease is responsible for $3.5 trillion in annual healthcare costs, and is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the US. Roughly six to 10 adults suffer from it, while four out of 10 have two or more types.

The most common are diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, which account for the following costs to the US healthcare system on an annual basis:

  • Diabetes – $327 billion ($1 out of every $4 in US healthcare costs)
  • Heart disease and stroke – $199 billion ($.60 of every $4)
  • Obesity – $147 billion ($.45 for every $4)

Together, that’s half of all the money spent on healthcare in the US, while patients with multiple chronic medical conditions account for nearly $2.3 trillion annually. 

Who benefits from RPM?

  • Patients. They get increased safety and convenience. The act of wearing a device reminds them of their chronic diseases and encourages them to comply with their medications and healthier habits. They also see improved health outcomes because their monitored vitals establish trends that can be used for early intervention by a medical professional.
  • Doctors. They’re able to review vitals regularly, requiring fewer in-person visits from their patients.

 Example – Congestive Heart Failure

When a patient’s heart doesn’t pump a sufficient amount of blood, this results in fluid collection in their lungs and other parts of their body. If a doctor suspects this may be happening, they can use echocardiograms, EKGs, pulse ox measurements, and x-rays to determine if there’s a problem. But outside of a medical setting, and without an RPM device, the only option for patients is to use an analog scale to measure any substantial changes in their weight percentages that would warrant seeing a doctor. Is this an effective system? Not so much.

How does RPM work, and what’s the role of a call center?

A physician first determines whether their patient needs a device, then educates them on its use before sending them home. The information it transmits will require someone to monitor and verify it with the patient, as well as determine which alerts from the device require a physician’s intervention.

Call centers can provide this data monitoring through nonclinical and clinical options:

  • Nonclinical staff can review alerts regularly and decrease the amount of work required by clinical staff. They can contact patients about malfunctioning devices, provide education on how to use them, and address patient concerns when they haven’t put their devices on properly. Nonclinical staff can also refer alerts to doctors, either based on rules from those doctors or from device manufacturers.
  • Clinical staff and triage nurses can use protocols that are symptom-based (Schmitt-Thompson protocols) or disease/device-specific to ensure patient wellbeing, as well as identify device alerts that require physician review.

Nurse triage software includes these Schmitt-Thompson protocols so that nurses:

  • Evaluate patient symptoms and device alerts accurately.
  • Ensure they’re asking the right questions.
  • Come to the right dispositions.
  • Document all patient calls in an organized and standard way so that this data can be attached or integrated to a practice’s EMR or patient record.

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TriageLogic is a URAC-accredited, physician-led provider of top-quality nurse telehealth technology, remote patient monitoring, and medical call center solutions, all for the purpose of encouraging positive patient behavior and improving access to healthcare. Founded in 2007, the TriageLogic Group now serves more than 9,000 physicians and covers over 25 million lives nationwide. They continue to partner with private practices, hospitals, and corporations throughout the U.S.