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What is Remote Patient Monitoring?


what is remote patient monitoring?

Remote patient monitoring (RPM), also known as remote healthcare monitoring, is an innovative healthcare approach leveraging technology to track patient well-being beyond the confines of a traditional clinical environment.


RPM falls under the umbrella of homecare telehealth, empowering patients to employ mobile medical devices and technological tools for the collection of patient-generated health data (PGHD). This information is then transmitted to healthcare professionals for analysis. The range of physiological metrics typically gathered through RPM encompasses vital signs, weight, blood pressure, and heart rate. These datasets are relayed to a physician's office through a specialized telehealth computer system or a software application, compatible with computers, smartphones, or tablets.


The benefits of RPM extend beyond patient empowerment - it’s revolutionised the way healthcare practitioners can deliver outpatient care and effectively reduce re-hospitalisation costs. Practitioners can schedule readings with the patient, facilitate virtual calls and consultations, track metrics over short and long-term periods of care, and analyze the impact of treatments, medications, and lifestyle changes to pre-empt issues and substantially reduce crises and readmissions.


Remote Healthcare Monitoring as a Step-Change in Population Health Management


Used by a growing network of clinicians, hospitals, specialists, and research teams, RPM allows medical professionals to adjust the way they correspond and trace patient data, providing real-time alerts when a reading signifies a potential emergency.


The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion reports that around 10% of people across the US do not have adequate health insurance or access, most of whom have no primary care provider and are without access to health care services.


One of the many negative outcomes is that a patient could be living with a chronic condition without any treatment or medication and lacking in education that could help manage their condition and alleviate symptoms through lifestyle changes related to nutrition, physical activity, and high-risk behaviors.


Digital technology can be rolled out at scale as a financially low-cost way to reach patients with barriers to healthcare as a preventative monitoring strategy. It can ensure those in rural areas or with mobility or transport limitations and patient demographics typically unengaged with care services receive direct support from a qualified clinician.


Implementing RPM is streamlined and efficient, dispatching medical-grade monitoring devices to patients based on an assessment of their health, conditions, and comorbidities. Devices are calibrated and ready for immediate use, connecting with the Wanda Health virtual care platform and transmitting readings through secure, tamper-proof networks.


Early detection is considerably more viable using RPM tracking to determine when patient readings require a more detailed investigation and ensuring practitioners respond quickly, with better care coordination and a substantial reduction in unplanned emergency admissions.


Reducing the Economic Burden of Preventable Healthcare Crises Through RPM


Heart disease and stroke contribute to over 877,000 deaths per year, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – over a third of all fatalities. The economic cost to the US is $216 billion per year, with an additional $147 billion economic impact of lost working time and productivity.


Addressing these highly prevalent conditions and proactively monitoring and managing patient health can avoid preventable deaths, pre-empt detection of escalating symptoms before they require an emergency admission, and allow physicians to offer invaluable advice to ensure patients reduce their risk exposure.


Other widespread conditions can also be effectively managed and supervised with RPM technology, including diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Patients equipped with a user-friendly, intuitive device log their readings automatically, access time-tracked metrics through the patient portal, and are active participants in managing their own health.


While RPM is emerging as a leading way to cut the economic costs of avoidable hospital admissions and reduce fatalities from manageable conditions, it has already been cited as a new way forward.


The Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) advises that RPM programs can ‘help keep people healthy, allow older and disabled individuals to live at home longer and reduce hospitalizations, readmissions and lengths of stay.’ It also notes that RPM can ‘help improve quality of life and contain costs.’


Introducing Remote Healthcare Monitoring to a Medical Practice


Like all transitions, the switch from in-person appointments and clinics to RPM requires an element of change management. Our focus is making RPM accessible and deployable without delay, considering important factors for both patient and practitioner.


All RPM devices from Wanda Health are pre-programmed for patient use and can be dispatched straight away without instructional guidance or training required. Intuitive displays, one-touch controls, and high-visibility backlit LED screens ensure a device is suitable for any patient.


Practitioners have discretion about the RPM devices that they believe are most important to the individual patient based on their knowledge of the person's medical background, ongoing conditions or diseases, or risk factors linked to their lifestyle, family history, or behaviors such as alcohol consumption.


Once a clinician has allocated a device or set of devices, they can then schedule virtual consultations and calls to check in with patients, assess their well-being, and combine this with a detailed overview of their measurements, such as blood oxygen levels, heart functionality, weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure.


The technology built into an RPM device ensures data measurements are accurate and medically verifiable, stored safely, and transmitted through cellular networks – avoiding reliance on Wi-Fi connections or other integrations that may affect accessibility for some patient cohorts.


Practitioners collect health data electronically, analyze the results and trends, and provide tailored guidance or medication adjustments as appropriate to the patient without requiring them to attend visits or consultations in person.


Patient Cost Benefits of Remote Healthcare Monitoring


Medical providers and clinicians can introduce RPM based on the healthcare coverage and insurance of the patient. Medicare beneficiaries are equally eligible for RPM healthcare services, where integrated billing mechanisms and CPT codes allow hospitals and other healthcare providers to log interactions and billable events automatically, with a traceable record of their interactions.


Part A Medicare patients qualify for RPM treatments and ongoing monitoring, and Medicare B patients are liable to contribute copay values as with other comparable services, although this may be covered by Medicaid or supplemental insurance coverage.


Coupled with the financial implications of virtual care in the patient's own home, lack of transport requirements, and the reduced propensity for emergency hospital admission or readmission, RPM is cost-efficient for all parties.


Changes to CPT codes to accommodate RPM monitoring make the billing process simpler for practitioners, with new codes introduced that are specifically intended for use with Medicare-eligible RPM services and other virtual patient care delivery.


Advantages of Remote Healthcare Monitoring in Modern Medical Sectors


As the compelling advantages become better established, take-up is increasing in volume. As a digital health tool, RPM can reduce time and capacity burdens experienced by primary and secondary care teams, addressing staffing shortages while freeing bandwidth to accept new patients by leveraging existing resources and introducing outstanding time efficiencies.


Practices, hospital, and community care physicians can introduce RPM across large patient demographics without requiring additional workforce members, equipment, or consultation appointments while having a robust level of insight into how health markers are changing.


For patient groups, the core benefits include:


  • More personalized healthcare and access to metrics and measurements, improving engagement in care planning.

  • Faster access to medical advice and services, using virtual consultations and discussions to review their medication or condition directly with a physician.

  • Convenience, being able to control chronic and ongoing diseases and conditions without necessitating frequent travel, and taking accurate readings from the comfort of their own homes.


From a practitioner's perspective, the positive outcomes of RPM are equally convincing:

  • Better patient outcomes with proactive insights to identify when medical intervention is necessary, preventing admissions and crises.

  • Higher rates of compliance and participation from patients who can see how their readings are changing and the beneficial implications of following their physicians' advice.

  • Greater capacity to deliver personalized care, making healthcare services more accessible, profitable, and streamlined with integrated CPT code logging for Medicare billing purposes.

Most insurers are now fully versed in RPM and have introduced claim mechanisms and adjustments to standard policies to ensure eligible claimants can cover elements of their RPM healthcare costs where these do not qualify for Medicare reimbursement.


Types of Medical Devices Used in Remote Patient Monitoring


Patients are provided with one or more devices to use in their homes, including instructions on how to take accurate readings and when to take their measurements. A provider may assign several RPM devices to a patient, depending on the health conditions or indicators they wish to track.


Wanda Health provides a range of FDA-approved devices, all combining the functionality to take precise readings and transmit this data to the practitioner while being easy to use, even for patients with limited flexibility or other mobility challenges.


Blood Pressure Cuffs in Remote Patient Monitoring


These devices are routinely used in almost every healthcare setting and assess the changes in arterial motion to record blood flow and heart rate metrics. An advanced blood pressure cuff records the data and transmits it to the appropriate clinician for real-time review.


Blood pressure cuffs are frequently used to manage and monitor conditions such as kidney dysfunction, chronic heart failure (CHF), diabetes, and hypertension. Using blood pressure cuffs within an RPM program may improve the reliability of the measurements since this avoids the well-known 'white coat' hypertension, where patients who experience anxiety attending medical appointments present with an elevated heart rate.

Introducing blood pressure tracking also assists with identifying masked hypertension, where periodic but not constant variations in heart rate or blood pressure indicate a concern.


Using Glucometers Within RPM Healthcare Programs


Primarily deployed to manage patients with type 1 or 2 diabetes, a glucometer analyzes the blood sugar concentration, requiring a small dot of blood placed into a testing strip included with the kit. The patient then inserts the test strip into the device, which assesses the result and sends the blood glucose reading to the assigned practitioner.


Many patients with diabetes are familiar with the use of glucometers and may need to use these devices daily to ensure their blood sugar is being correctly managed. The access to immediate results is beneficial in patient self-management, assessing how medications, stress, illness, diet, and exercise affect blood glucose, and in ongoing tracking of diabetes or an associated condition.


Pulse Oximeters for RPM Patient Groups


These devices feature a noninvasive clip that attaches either to a finger or the earlobe, measuring light wavelengths that indicate blood oxygen levels. Pulse oximeters can also measure pulse.


Clinicians may deploy a pulse oximeter within an RPM program to patients with conditions affecting heart or lung functions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and CHF. They also utilize these devices to assist with screening for viral illnesses such as COVID-19 and for patients with asthma or pneumonia.


Digital Weighing Scales for RPM Providers


Modern weighing scales enable patients to engage in lifestyle adjustments and track how these impact their weight. Examples of applications for scales within RPM include CHF patients, where water retention can contribute to fluctuations in weight.


Clinicians can track body weight alongside other symptoms to indicate when CHF is worsening. Scales are also used for monitoring the health measurements of patients with obesity and other diseases that are impacted by obesity, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.


Trends in the Remote Patient Monitoring Sector


Analysts expect that the upward trajectory in RPM implementation will gather pace, with an anticipated 70.6 million patients throughout the US – comprising 26.2% of the adult population – receiving some form of care service or medical monitoring via RPM by 2025.


However, primary healthcare is just one of the applications for RPM, with significant interest in RPM programs and data collation for clinical trials, population healthcare management, post-acute care environments, and diagnostic testing.


Part of the driver behind this forecast growth is the results already achieved by healthcare providers and medical organizations. For example, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center reported a reduction in hospital readmissions of 76%. The program also produced patient satisfaction ratings above 90%, showing that the convenience and cost-efficiency of RPM are balanced with viable and improved healthcare outcomes.


Uptake is also likely to be supported by the growing proportion of the population in senior age, where chronic diseases are more prevalent, and who may benefit from at-home RPM to reduce the need to attend frequent in-person appointments or consultations.


Predictions for future trends include an appetite for smaller, more compact devices to ensure medical readings can be taken in the least invasive way possible and for RPM devices to incorporate AI-based technologies.

There are also potential devices in testing phases that operate as implantable devices, taking measurements automatically and transmitting data to monitoring devices, medical centers, or any assigned devices via a Bluetooth connection.


How RPM Can Reduce the Cost of Chronic Health Condition Management


Conventional treatment protocols for chronic diseases and conditions such as COPD, heart diseases, and diabetes are costly and carry a burden of around $3.7 trillion a year – the combined cost of treating chronic conditions and mental health disorders.


This figure from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention represents almost 90% of the nationwide healthcare expenditure – making RPM ideally suited to targeting chronic health conditions where programs may make the fastest and most notable impact.


Diabetes affects over 37 million people, with an additional 96 million diagnosed or expected to have prediabetes and exposed to the development of diabetes in the future. The cost of treating diabetes and lost productivity is $325 billion annually.


Obesity is a significant concern, affecting over 40% of all US adults, who are exposed to a greater risk of chronic disease, including some cancers, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, with an annual cost to the healthcare system of $170 billion.


Finally, asthma and other chronic lung conditions cost $50 billion a year, with a significant number of lost days of work when adults with asthma are unwell.

Introducing RPM programs for chronic conditions or patient demographics in an at-risk category can proactively manage the cost of treating or monitoring disease. This allows clinicians to react quickly when measurements indicate a concern, reducing the likelihood of a medical emergency and lessening the economic cost of lost productivity.


About Wanda Health Remote Healthcare Monitoring


Wanda Health is at the leading edge of RPM development and implementation, designing a range of advanced devices and our interactive virtual care platform. Our instruments are engineered to facilitate predictive and responsive healthcare, reducing the costs of delivering high-quality care, improving revenues for practitioners and providers, and enhancing positive patient outcomes while reducing risks and preventable hospital admissions and fatalities.


With a cross-border team in both the US and UK, our aim is to transform the way care is delivered, addressing high-prevalence conditions and chronic diseases that place a huge strain on economies and large patient cohorts while finding better ways to manage and control condition progression.


Combining advanced healthcare devices and our secure virtual platform offers a more efficient and accessible way for practitioners and physicians to engage with patients, offer education and information, and share readings to inform the way they adjust care plans or medications.


These data-backed insights allow patients to participate in their care, understand why their clinician has made recommendations, and track improvements to readings to take back control of their health and long-term well-being.


We offer complimentary demonstrations of our suite of RPM devices and the Wanda Health virtual care platform and can provide guidance about how RPM can improve patient outcomes and experiences, cut care costs and boost revenues, and deliver accurate tracking to ensure reimbursable services are logged and claimed.


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