Clinical and Technology Experts Weigh in on What’s Working
When the pandemic hit, many health systems raced to stand up a remote care program, virtually overnight. What have they learned from these crisis-driven efforts? And what actually makes a remote care program “successful?”
To explore these questions, we organized a roundtable discussion with clinical and technology experts:
- Aaron Farber-Chen, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, RPM Program Leader and Clinical Advisor, Boston Children’s Hospital
- Tanya Tucker, BSN, RN, RPM Program Nurse Manager, University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC)
- Amy Verlsteffen, APRN, Senior Director Digital Transformation, TytoCare.
During our “Vital Signs for Remote Patient Monitoring” roundtable, the panelists shared their remote care program details, the biggest challenges for remote patient monitoring (RPM), and future trends they expect to see in the space.
They also offered valuable advice for health systems and technology vendors as they partner to provide remote care. We’ve highlighted the panelists’ “tips for success” below.
1. Gain leadership support.
Convince health system leaders that remote care can impact health outcomes. Refer to the results of other value-based programs. Also make sure leaders are ready to commit resources to remote care, with the clear understanding that the program won’t be a revenue driver right away. Rather, health systems should view remote care as an outcomes-driven, “patient-satisfier” program. This is a critical point for both program managers and technology vendors to emphasize.
2. Assemble the right team.
Health systems: Make sure you have the right mix of skills to build the case for remote care, conduct a pilot, launch the program, and scale it quickly.
How to ensure you recruit the right team? Articulate your program goals at the outset. For example, UMMC wanted its specialized care program to deliver consistent patient outcomes. Because this required managing medication for diabetes and hypertension patients, UMMC included a pharmacist on its remote care team.
Technology vendors: If you want a health system to choose you as their technology provider, you need to be adaptable. There’s no one-size-fits-all remote care program. Each health system has different wants and needs. What if your prospective customer wants to conduct a pediatric obesity study using RPM treatment? Can your technology and implementation team accommodate these types of niche requests?
3. Recruit clinical champions.
Find clinicians who not only believe in virtual care but also have hands-on experience using RPM technologies. Forge strong relationships with these individuals; they’re excellent advocates for remote care programs and solutions. They can help spread the good word about the value of remote care—more specifically, how it’s enhancing the care experience for both patients and clinicians and/or improving health outcomes.
4. Gather meaningful data.
Because of disparate systems and databases, it can be challenging to pull the right data to help make a strong case for using RPM technologies for patient care.
But when RPM technologies are integrated with electronic health record (EHR) systems, relevant insights are far more accessible. By consolidating all health data per patient, per protocol, health systems can more easily tell the real story of the remote care devices that are having a meaningful impact on patient outcomes.
5. Empower patients to manage their care.
Be sure to provide the education, support, and access that patients need to better manage their chronic disease and/or overall health. Remote care technology can help here by offering educational portals, chat functionality, and/or community forums. Using these tools, patients can learn how to monitor and assess their vital signs and associate fluctuations with their lifestyle/behaviors.
But even if the technology offers these capabilities, it’s important for clinicians and vendors to realize that some patients may not be able to access them. For example, patient populations in rural areas may experience broadband connectivity issues. In these cases, RPM tech vendors may need to get creative like UMMC’s vendor, which issued patient iPads with a variety of SIM cards from different carriers.
6. Make technology easy to use.
Patients need to feel comfortable using remote care technology. Devices that are small, wearable, non-intrusive, and simple to operate usually check the “easy” box for most patients.
But it’s imperative to make remote care technologies “easy” for clinicians, too. Does the solution integrate seamlessly with clinical workflows or does it require them to log in to multiple systems? Can clinicians use the technology to stratify RPM data so they can quickly prioritize patients who need immediate attention? Health systems want their clinicians to work smarter (not harder) to drive better outcomes.