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What is Remote patient monitoring?

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) “uses digital technologies to collect medical and other forms of health data from individuals in one location and electronically transmit that information securely to health care providers in a different location for assessment and recommendations.”

Data may be collected in a variety of ways, such as via wearable devices, such as heart rate monitors and fitness trackers, wireless connected devices, such as blood pressure monitors and glucose meters, and apps, such as weight loss and diet logging apps. An example of RPM may be the collection of blood glucose measurements in a patient with diabetes, storage in an online database to which the provider has access, and analysis by the provider to assess the potential need for intervention or changes to the care plan.

How can Watchful Health benefit Healthcare providers?

Why is remote patient monitoring important for a practice to implement? As it turns out, there are several reasons RPM can and should be part of any modern healthcare organization. Here is a list of just some of the many advantages of remote patient monitoring for doctors and their teams:

Increased Engagement: An engaged patient is a healthier patient. Under traditional models of care, it is far too easy for patients to stray from their treatment plans or lose track of their goals. Fortunately, one of many remote patient monitoring benefits is that it can boost engagement. Consistent monitoring empowers individuals to be more involved in their own care and understand how their conditions are progressing.

Greater Efficiency: Healthcare providers must do the best they can to appropriately allocate their time and resources. By monitoring eligible patients remotely, they can provide more frequent care and guidance without necessarily setting up an in-person appointment. For example, doctors can receive an alert when a patient suffering from hypertension experiences a spike in blood pressure. Staff can then reach out via text, phone call or email to check in and offer advice. This puts less strain on an office’s operation than scheduling visits for every step along the way.

Better Personalization: It may sound counter-intuitive, but being able to monitor patients from a distance can lead to more personalized care. By providing doctors and caregivers with a steady stream of information 24/7 about a person’s condition, they can get a more comprehensive picture of how that patient is progressing. This means that every interaction between a doctor and a patient becomes that much more impactful. By incorporating other elements of telehealth — such as video conferencing — a doctor and patient can initiate a quick chat virtually any time to discuss the plan going forward. The result is treatment with a higher degree of personalization and direct interaction.

Decreased Adverse Events: During an RPM program, individuals are constantly tracking vitals that are key health indicators. With this valuable information more readily available for individuals and their providers, it’s easier to identify red flags before they become problematic. As a result, those leveraging RPM across their patient population are seeing a reduction in readmissions and lower ED utilization rates, proving that these insights can drive timely interventions that keep individuals out of the hospital.

Chronic Care Improvements: Those who suffer from chronic conditions — such as diabetes or elevated blood pressure — can be cared for with greater ease thanks to remote patient monitoring. For instance, doctors can receive constant updates on someone’s blood glucose levels, so they can intervene before an adverse event occurs. Those receiving care may also find it easier to take the appropriate steps to adjust their lifestyles because they can see how they are doing in real-time. Overall, these improvements could lead to better outcomes and higher levels of patient satisfaction, which in turn means a more successful practice.

When are health measurements monitored while I’m at home?

Measurements taken at home are not monitored 24/7. They are only monitored by Duke providers during normal, weekday hours of business, which run 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Your measurements will not be monitored on weekends or holidays. If you have a medical emergency or immediate concerns, seek medical care right away at the closest emergency department or call 911.

How much will remote patient monitoring cost my patients?

Remote Patient Monitoring is a covered service under Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage Plans (MAP) and some private insurers are now covering RPM. Patient co-pay or deductible may apply to remote patient monitoring services. A majority of patients also have a secondary insurance including Medigap, Medicaid, or employer sponsored secondary plans, that will cover co-pay costs.

How much training will my patients require?

All devices are designed for seniors and very easy to use. They have simple displays, are ready for use out of the box, and automatically begin transferring the data when used. No calibration is needed for the blood pressure device. Our customer support team will reach out to each patient once the device is received to help with setup and are available to answer any questions or issues that may arise.

Where can I track my patients’ activity?

Each practice that participates in RPM has their own unique HIPPA secured platform with their practice name as the “company”. The Saas (Software As A Service) software can be accessed from any device such as a computer, laptop, tablet, or phone and contains all the information you need to monitor your patients’ activity. Once they start using the device(s), you can track their usage in their patient account. You can also see all of their health information.

How does the doctor’s staff review the data?

During the course of the month the patient account is accessed and reviewed to determine if their chronic illness is being maintained, improving or worsening. Every second of time is logged automatically when in the patient account to help meet the monthly billing threshold. This can be done by an MA or other qualified health professionals. In addition, and under the doctors’ supervision, our qualified MA staff can also provide the entire service delivery of RPM for an additional fee. This is perfect for busy practices, especially for the first few months as you are building your RPM program. Over time, and as the money comes in from billing the RPM CPT codes, the doctor should be able to hire an MA to run RPM and other office functions.

What if my practice is ever audited for RPM compliance?

The software saves every communication, chart review, health review, by clinician so that if ever audited there is a trail and back-up records maintained by our company through the doctors portal. RPM is here to stay and there should be no concern that Medicare will stop paying for RPM because it is proven to help patients improve their chronic conditions and avoid ER and hospitalizations.

Are my measurements automatically sent from my device to the Watchful Health team?

Yes. Once you set up your device, download the device’s app, and link your device account to Duke, then your provider will be able to see this data. Instructions are provided in your patient guide.

Are there patient co-pays for the RPM codes?

A: Normally, there are. Like all medicare services, patients are responsible for applicable co-pays depending on the service rendered. That being said, during the COVID PHE, providers can waive copays for RPM.

What constitutes a Remote patient monitoring device?

The device must meet the FDA’s definition of a medical device as described in section 201(h) of the Federal, Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The device must digitally, i.e, automatically, upload patient physiologic data.