In the last 50 years, humanity’s progress in the development of science and technology has advanced exponentially. As medicine and healthcare have advanced alongside these innovations, novel opportunities have arisen for us to integrate health maintenance into our daily lives. Smart devices are a convenience that have already become ubiquitous in modern life. Today, the average U.S. household has more than 10 connected devices, meaning nearly every home in the country with reliable internet access can connect virtually with a healthcare provider anywhere in the world at any given time. Today, more healthcare providers than ever are taking advantage of telehealth technology to take better care of their existing patients, and bring access to new ones.
What is RPM?
In recent years, a subcategory of telehealth services has shown great promise for improving quality of care and patient outcomes, especially in the context of chronic disease. RPM, or remote patient monitoring, sometimes called remote patient management, is a model of care that has demonstrated significant value to patients, providers, and health plans alike. Although RPM can involve the use of older technology intended for at-home use, like weight scales and blood pressure cuffs, its current relevance is highlighted by advancements in technology that allow for real-time collection of patient data, with blood pressure cuffs that can automatically transmit readings over their own built-in cellular connection, and continuous glucose monitoring devices that can grant providers around-the-clock access, and prompt customized clinical interventions without the need for an office visit, or even a conversation.
When should RPM be used?
Typically, the setting in which any measure of healthcare innovation has the greatest potential for impact is in the treatment of chronic disease. Because of the sheer number of those affected, high costs associated with their treatment, and their progressive and incurable nature, the management of chronic disease leaves plenty of room for improvement, providing the greatest opportunity for the success of RPM. In the U.S. alone, chronic conditions account for $3.5 trillion in spending each year, roughly 90% of all healthcare costs. The effective use of RPM, and the insight it can provide, allows healthcare providers the opportunity to treat their patients proactively with the goal of preventing disease progression, diminished quality of life, and costlier treatments. These measurable real-world benefits of RPM result from increasing patient access to healthcare providers, while improving the efficiency of the treatment process. With the increasing popularity and uptake of RPM programs, experts in the field have estimated that RPM has the potential to save the U.S. healthcare system billions of dollars each year by more effectively addressing these chronic conditions.
Who can benefit from RPM?
High-cost chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease impacts 120 million people in the U.S., with heart disease and stroke costing the U.S. healthcare system around $200 billion each year, with an additional $130 billion lost in productivity. Diabetes costs the U.S. a combined $325 million annually in healthcare costs and lost productivity, while asthma and COPD contribute to a combined $50 billion per year, in addition to causing more than 16 million days of absences for U.S. workers every year.
Who is using RPM?
Several healthcare organizations have already implemented their own RPM programs, with great success in patient populations with conditions like heart failure, diabetes, and even high-risk pregnancy. Multiple studies have demonstrated that RPM has the capacity to reduce total cost of care not only through implementing more efficient strategies, but also by direct improvement of health outcomes, saving thousands by slowing disease progression, and reducing the need for acute care and hospital admissions. For example, research conducted by the Veterans Health Administration found that the benefits of their RPM programs were able to reduce hospitalizations by up to 40% for some diseases, and lowered the total cost of care for their patient population by $6,500 per patient. Savings and benefits generated by RPM models aren’t limited to payers and patients. Providers can expect compensation for the services they provide, with a growing number of public and private insurers offering reimbursement for RPM. During the constant change in productivity due to COVID, telehealth provides a way to provide continuity of care and maintain productivity for clinical staff, if managed properly.
With the implementation of new and innovative care models like RPM, payers and providers alike can impact the health of their members or patients, in a way that benefits all parties involved. If you are interested in learning how RPM can improve your organization or practice, please reach out to the Profero Team for in-depth guidance on valuation, strategy and integration!
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