Improving patient engagement with remote patient monitoring: 9 things to know

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."

This proverb succinctly speaks to the challenges practitioners often face when trying to get patients to adhere to treatment plans intended to mitigate the effects of chronic diseases. Practitioners can explain the importance of adherence and even provide evidence to support their explanations, but many patients will still deviate from their plans. It's not a matter of if, but when.

What are practitioners to do in the face of such adversity? Rather than go blue in the face, they can lean on solutions to strengthen treatment adherence. One such solution that an increasing number of practitioners are adopting is remote patient monitoring (RPM). They are finding that RPM is often the hand holding that many patients need to not only improve their health but increase the critical aspect of patient engagement in care.

Why is remote patient monitoring such an effective mechanism for strengthening patient engagement? Here are nine things to know

1. Ease of engagement. One of the most significant patient benefits of RPM is that using the prescribed device is often quite easy — and almost certainly easier than undertaking frequent follow-up visits to a practitioner's office. In other words, simplicity breeds compliance with and engagement in RPM programs.

2. Convenient patient support. RPM delivers to patients the ongoing support they need to keep their chronic conditions under better control while meeting them in the location that is most convenient: wherever they are situated.

3. Progress toward goals. People are naturally more motivated to work towards achieving a goal when they can see progress toward said goal. Since RPM requires ongoing measurements and data reporting, patients find motivation in seeing their progress and thus become more actively involved in making the changes required to reach health goals.

4. Removed access barriers. Many Americans struggle to get to and from places because of factors including travel distances, transportation cost and accessibility, and poor infrastructure. Something as seemingly simple as getting to a doctor's office on a monthly basis can be a tremendous hurdle for some patients — one that will likely grow larger if patients are asked to engage in chronic care management. If patients find it difficult to get to a provider, they may start skipping visits. This can quickly spiral into complete nonengagement. RPM is a solution to this issue since it meets patients where they are located while still addressing chronic care needs.

5. Convenience for rural patients. Geographical residence is frequently cited as one of the most significant barriers to quality care. RPM uses technology that essentially removes the barrier of location, better ensuring that rural patients can receive care of the same quality as those living in more populated areas.

6. Strengthened oversight. When a patient walks out of the office following a visit, this often represents an end of care oversight provided by the practitioner, with oversight restarting when the patient returns for their next visit. In between visits, practitioners tend to lack insight into a patient's condition or progress toward achieving goals. RPM often relies upon a multifaceted care team and technology designed for frequent interacting with patients outside of and in between visits, ultimately leading to better oversight, direct patient engagement, and stronger care team collaboration.

7. Better provider-patient communication. The nature of RPM inevitably increases the frequency of communication between patients and care teams and the value of that communication since it can address a patient's current health. When patients participate in an RPM program, they tend to build closer relationships with practitioners. Patients feel more engaged because they are better understood, can see that they are receiving ongoing monitoring of their health, and believe that their healthcare team cares about their progress toward health goals.

8. Supports real-time data collection. Patients aren't typically considered good sources of information about their own health, which can force practitioners to make more educated guesses about treatment than they would like. RPM is an effective mechanism for alleviating some patient health literacy challenges by providing practitioners with real-time health data that comes from RPM technology rather than patients. The confidence that comes with using an RPM device that will be transmitting accurate, timely health information can further drive patient engagement in the RPM program and their overall care.

9. More active care team participants. Finally, since RPM allows patients to view and better understand their health status due to the physical action of using an RPM device and frequency of collecting health data, they are likely to become more actively involved with their care management. By understanding their immediate health situation and needs, which essentially stares them in the face when they use RPM devices, this can serve to remind and motivate them to take medications, eat healthier, exercise, and undertake other activities that can keep chronic conditions under better control. When coupled with the more frequent check-ins with their care team that often accompanies an RPM program, patients become more actively engaged in their overall health and recommended treatment plan, leading to improved outcomes and reduced costs.

The case for adding remote patient monitoring
An April 2021 poll by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) revealed that about 22% of practices are currently offering remote patient monitoring. We expect this figure to rise in the coming years as practitioners learn more about RPM and how it is a proven method of delivering ongoing care and support to some of our most vulnerable patients, thanks largely to RPM's effectiveness in keeping patients engaged in their care and focused on their health. Practitioners will also undoubtedly welcome the reimbursement that comes with delivering RPM services. Even after covering associated expenses, RPM typically yields significant, consistent revenue.

Remote patient monitoring has been quietly evolving for many years and now looks primed to become an integral component of our healthcare delivery system — and one that patients are increasingly looking for. Now it's up to practitioners to step up and meet this demand.

Lucy Lamboley is director of customer success for Prevounce Health. Prevounce is a cloud-based platform that supports healthcare organizations in their delivery of remote patient monitoring services as well as chronic care management, annual wellness visits, and preventive services.

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