By Jim Brown, MD
Over the past few years, remote patient monitoring (RPM) adoption has skyrocketed, with usage advancing 555% between January 2018 and September 2021. RPM—the remote monitoring of devices that track patient vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, and weight—continues to see strong growth today. More than three quarters (76%) of practices expect to use the technology by 2024, according to a new report called, “Poised for Flight: Remote Patient Monitoring Has Arrived.”
A recent study of 1,300 physicians by the American Medical Association is just as optimistic, with 73% of respondents expecting to use RPM by the end of next year.
However, implementing a successful RPM program—one that is easy for practice staff to integrate into workflows, drives clinical outcome improvements, and is revenue positive—depends on choosing the right partner. The right third-party solution will streamline all RPM processes to enable a practice- and patient-friendly experience.
Here are three capabilities that practices should consider when choosing a third-party partner.
A Turnkey Solution
Partnering with a third-party is a great option for practices that want to start or scale an RPM program, but are concerned about the staff time or resources the program will require. That’s because an effective third-party provider can handle all of the practice’s RPM essential needs, from patient registration and device logistics to ongoing patient engagement and triage.
In fact, one common reason RPM programs underperform or fail is that they don’t have the internal staff bandwidth to recruit patients and keep them engaged. A trusted partner can identify which patients are ideal candidates for the RPM program, ship and manage patient devices, train patients on proper use, and ensure patients stay engaged in the program to consistently transmit their vital readings. It’s also key to find a partner that can quickly resolve device malfunctions and questions from patients.
A partner with a turnkey solution, as described above, will ensure that deploying the RPM program places very limited additional burden on operational and clinical staff.
An Aligned Pricing Approach
Another reason practices hesitate to start an RPM program is that capturing reimbursement takes considerable work. There are four CPT codes associated with RPM reimbursement, three of which are recurring. A competent third-party partner can significantly increase the likelihood of obtaining accurate RPM reimbursement.
Practices should seek out a partner that provides an effective software platform and an experienced team, as well as a proven ability to achieve an 80% or better billable rate for the practice’s RPM patient population.
The right partner can also assist the practice with identifying patients who have insurance that will reimburse for RPM. This is a crucial step that requires individual research for each patient.
Without a highly competent partner, the practice will see an increase in workload, but may not achieve the patient engagement necessary to achieve the reimbursement or clinical outcome objectives.
Another critical element to consider when evaluating RPM partners is their pricing model. An experienced partner will only bill the practice for patients that meet reimbursement requirements. The partner should also provide the practice with an agreement that includes:
- No device lease or purchase costs
- No minimum patient commitment
- No responsibility for device logistics
- An initial invoice grace period
- Monthly billing reports
A Focus on Trends and Smart Management of Point-in-time Alerts
It is well understood that weight, blood pressure, and glucose readings can be useful clinical indicators. However, a single “point-in-time” weight or blood pressure reading that crosses a preset threshold may not reflect the true value of RPM when managing chronic disease.
The most valuable way to leverage the consistent data from an RPM program is to track each patients’ trended data and their risk level. Practices should seek a partner that provides a technology solution that shows trends over time, such as thorough monthly risk stratification reports. By stratifying the patient population by risk category, a practice can focus its energy on high risk patients, maximizing their time and driving outcomes for their populations. Ultimately, this translates to improved quality metrics.
Point-in-time alerts can be clinically relevant, but they need to be put in context before being passed on to a practice. Only those alerts that are truly relevant should be sent to the practice. When a patient alert is received, a proactive partner will call the patient and review a set of questions to better understand the context of the alert. Then, it will determine if the information should be passed along to the practice as an immediate alert.
A Win-win for Patients and Practices
When turning to a third party provider to administer your RPM program, it is important to find a turnkey solution that handles every aspect of your initiative—including engaging patients, shipping devices, and training patients on proper use. In addition, the partner should provide an aligned pricing approach, that reduces your risk and maximizes your ROI from the program. Finally, the partner should provide risk stratification and point-in time alerts to ensure the best possible outcomes for your remotely monitored patients.
A third-party provider such as Rhythm can provide all of the above, while fostering a practice- and patient-friendly experience. This will reduce the burden on clinical staff, improve patient participation and outcomes, and increase overall ROI for your practice.