Population Health Driving Investment in Remote Patient Monitoring

November 14, 2019

Most health systems have invested or plan to invest in remote patient monitoring solutions to support their organizational transitions to value-based care.

A majority (88%) of hospitals and health systems surveyed by Spyglass Consulting Group, say they have invested or plan to invest in remote patient monitoring (RPM) solutions, according to its report, “Trends in Remote Patient Monitoring 2019.” These solutions will help care managers monitor complex high-risk patients with chronic conditions who are considered unstable or at risk for hospital readmissions and/or unexpected emergency department visits.

The report presents the findings of an end-user market study focused on opportunities and challenges for US-based healthcare provider organizations that have developed strategies and are considering new or incremental investments in RPM solutions. These solutions enable risk-bearing organizations to remotely monitor and manage high-risk patients with chronic conditions including CHF, COPD, diabetes, hypertension, and asthma in order to help control costs, improve care quality and outcomes, and increase access to care for patients living in underserved rural/remote areas. 

“With the passage of the ACA, hospitals and health systems are rapidly consolidating into larger integrated delivery networks and transitioning toward various at-risk payment and care delivery models,” says Gregg Malkary, managing director of Menlo Park, California-based Spyglass Consulting Group, a market strategy firm focused on mobile technology usage within the healthcare industry. “They are formulating strategies and deploying foundational technologies and processes required to support population health management programs focused on chronic disease management. RPM solutions have been identified as important early symptom management tools for managing large numbers of chronically ill patients.”

Market drivers

Healthcare provider investments in RPM solutions are being driven by several underlying market factors including exploding healthcare costs, an aging baby boomer population, the increased prevalence of chronic disease, and continuous healthcare professional labor shortages, Malkary says. There are more than 133 million Americans representing 45% of the U.S. population who have at least one chronic disease.

Early market adopters of RPM solutions are managed care organizations with fiscal responsibility for their patients across the spectrum of care. This includes accountable care organizations, health maintenance organizations, home health agencies, hospices, disease management companies, and government agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Related: The Future Of Value-Based Care

According to Malkary, RPM solutions are clinically effective as an early symptom management tool when used to support patients participating in disease management and/or care coordination programs to automate the collection of patient vital signs and symptomatic data, and proactively identify if a patient’s condition is deteriorating or becoming life threatening.

Return on investment

Healthcare providers are struggling to develop a compelling return on investment to justify large-scale investments to expand existing chronic care management program(s) and leverage RPM technologies, Malkary says. Clinical trials have been limited in size and scope, payer reimbursement is dominated by fee-for-service contracts, and there is a limited understanding of the costs associated with managing chronically ill patients. 

The report also indicates that healthcare providers are encouraging patients to proactively manage their health. Eighty-nine percent of providers surveyed indicate they have developed or are in the process of developing engagement strategies to encourage patients, family members, and care givers to take a proactive role in managing their chronic conditions. They are leveraging mobile technologies including smartphones and tablets, deploying EHR-based patient portals, offering telehealth video conferencing services, and evaluating emerging healthcare wearables. 

 

However, despite their interest in RPM deployment, healthcare providers are facing significant challenges, according to Malkary. The majority of providers surveyed have limited budgets and resources to expand their care management programs; RPM tools and data are not well integrated with existing clinical information systems and workflow; and they lack the clinical programs, personnel, processes, and tools to take advantage of CMS’ new CPT codes that provide reimbursement for RPM equipment and monitoring services.