Why Providence is leaning into remote patient monitoring

Renton, Wash.-based Providence is leaning heavily into remote patient monitoring for its at-home care strategy, a health system leader told Becker's.

The 51-hospital system started piloting the program a year and a half ago and is now scaling it. Over 1,500 patients are currently enrolled in the care model, a number that is expected to reach 5,000 to 8,000 by the end of 2024, according to Eve Cunningham, MD, chief of virtual care and digital health for Providence.

"The impact that we're able to make on getting patients into guideline-directed medical therapy, getting patients' hypertension under better control, getting patients' blood sugar under better control for diabetes — it's just amazing to see," Dr. Cunningham told Becker's. "And I'm very excited about continuing to expand and grow that program and to add additional conditions over time."

The program has been treating hypertension, congestive heart failure and Type 2 diabetes, introducing COPD this year.

Providence is embracing remote chronic disease patient monitoring at the same time some other big health systems are banking on "hospital at home," which treats acute care patients. Providence has a small hospital-at-home initiative, with an average daily census of about four patients, compared to about 50 for the largest program. That type of care, which requires clinician visits and hospital-level medical equipment in the home, is "very difficult to scale logistically," Dr. Cunningham said.

Remote patient monitoring is a more passive form of care for lower acuity patients, using smart devices to track patient vital signs and alert clinicians if anything is amiss.

Dr. Cunningham said the "secret sauce" of Providence's program is that it doesn't add to provider burnout. The health system partners with an outside company that provides both technology and clinicians, including nurse practitioners, behavioral health specialists and pharmacists.

"They are an extension of our primary care clinician team," she explained. "So our primary care clinicians don't have to ingest all of this data and titrate medications. They're busy seeing patients in the clinic."

Dr. Cunningham said she envisions the use of technology in the home creating a paradigm shift in healthcare.

"The way we've traditionally delivered healthcare where we have a patient with congestive heart failure or hypertension, you bring them in every three months, and you try to get them into guideline-directed therapy or you try to get them under better control — that's not an efficient or optimized way to take care of patients with chronic illnesses," she said.

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