Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is quickly increasing in popularity because it provides a safe and useful method of care that provides more than virtual visits. Remote Patient Monitoring offers a way to take the clinic home with you by providing you with easy-to-use medical devices and some basic training.
What does a Remote Patient Monitoring program look like?
Most programs are similar. Patients are outfitted with medical equipment, such as a weight scale and a blood pressure cuff, and are instructed to record their vitals every day. These values are then reviewed remotely by the patient’s care provider. Sometimes, these programs include a mobile tablet that works as the method of transmission. Other times, the medical devices themselves may be transmitting this information without needing a tablet.
Virtual Video and additional features are frequently bundled with RPM programs that use a mobile tablet. These features may include direct access to educational resources that aim to teach you how to improve your medical outcome. Additionally, you may be required to answer survey questions related to how you feel each day.
Why would I be placed in a Remote Patient Monitoring Program?
There are numerous reasons your doctor would recommend this type of program. The most common reason is that you have a chronic illness and you would benefit from more proactive management. Taking your vitals day-to-day as opposed to once a week or once a month lets your provider see health trends that they would not notice as quickly otherwise.
Another common reason for enrollment in remote patient monitoring is to reduce recurring in-person appointments for activities that can be completed remotely, such as PT/INR blood coagulation testing, for example. Patients needing to regulate their blood viscosity will frequently experience changes in their medication dosages because of this testing.
Less common reasons may include post-discharge observation, where a patient is stable enough to go home, but still requires observation. This may be due to a recent surgical procedure, emergency room visit, or from the onset of a high-risk illness like Covid-19.
How do I graduate from the program?
In simplest terms, you graduate from a remote patient monitoring program when you do not need it anymore. A typical timeline for a patient with chronic illness undergoing remote monitoring may play out like this:
The patient begins the program and, over a short time, becomes more familiar with their own measurements and how they translate to their day-to-day health. Because the patient is more engaged with their own health simply by measuring it each day, they start taking more initiative to improve their condition. This typically takes the form of following recommended recipes and activities made available to them through the education feature on their tablet. During this program, the provider is also more engaged with the patient’s health, reaching out when vitals trend dangerously, but also to act as a frequent reminder that the patient’s positive changes are making a measurable difference.
Ideally, the patient’s readmission risk goes down as making positive health choices becomes more normal. When the patient is managing their condition well, the need for the remote monitoring goes down and they can graduate from the program successfully.