Over the course of the past year, organizations of all kinds have experienced a period of unprecedented change. From tourism to transportation, nearly every industry has been forced to adopt new technologies and techniques in an effort to combat the effects of an ongoing global pandemic. The healthcare sector has been especially affected as a result of these events, and medical professionals have been forced to seek out transformative tech solutions to help overcome these obstacles. Remote patient monitoring systems (RPM), in particular, have seen massive adoption.
These innovative, telehealth technologies have a direct impact on the delivery of high-quality patient care. To effectively improve that care and boost the bottom line, providers must unlock all the capabilities RPMs have to offer and that starts with a solid implementation plan.
Develop a Solid Team
The implementation of an RPM system takes more than technical talent alone. It’s crucial to have a diverse team from different backgrounds in order to ensure the system is efficient and effective. This will require you to involve specialists from a variety of departments, and in soliciting their buy-in, you’ll likely need to tailor your case differently to each group. Here are just a few different types of team members that may play an important role in an RPM effort:
- Clinical staff. For obvious reasons, your implementation team should include healthcare experts who can perform clinical duties such as identifying potential participants, coordinating care strategies, and analyzing patient data.
- IT team. A dedicated IT staff will be an important part of setting up and configuring your RPM system, as well as designing non-clinical features such as reminder messages, data exchange protocols, and dashboarding/visualization tools.
- Patients. Remote monitoring will also require patients to play an active role, and it is important to educate participants on best practices when using patient portals and technical equipment, among other key resources.
Every clinical team is different, and will likely require varying levels of healthcare talent, technical expertise, and patient input. As a result, patient monitoring systems can diverge dramatically between organizations, making cookie-cutter programs all the more difficult to implement. However, by partnering with software experts, like illumisoft, healthcare providers can cultivate customized solutions that fully integrate with their current systems, giving them greater confidence in their plans moving forward.
Go In with a Plan
Implementing a new technology can present significant challenges— especially when the systems in question are involved in critical, life-altering healthcare decisions. For this reason, it’s important to have a solid plan, complete with detailed workflows that give an organization a clear path towards success. Among the most important components in a quality plan include:
- Device management. Whether you’re leveraging smartphone apps or custom mobile hardware, systems for configuring and troubleshooting patient monitoring devices are a critical component of maintaining any RPM system.
- Daily patient engagement. Your organization’s embrace of RPM solutions relies on patient engagement. To encourage this, build positive feedback loops by providing messages and routines that encourage more frequent interaction.
- Data storage and monitoring. In addition to integrating detailed dashboards for monitoring trends and patterns in inpatient data, organizations must be proactive about safeguarding this information, preserving privacy through secure storage.
- Invoicing systems. RPM practitioners may choose to fund their programs through a variety of mechanisms, from a fee-for-service model to a more traditional population-based payments structure. Organizations should have a clear understanding of the trade-offs and workflows involved in each.
When it comes to integrating a remote patient monitoring system, practitioners rarely have the opportunity to overhaul their entire organization. Remote patient monitoring requires providers to leverage the strengths of both new technologies and legacy infrastructure. By mapping out how each element of the system will overlap and interact, clinical teams will have a far more developed perspective on the challenges and opportunities this new technological framework will present.
Train Support Staff
No matter where an RPM system is being implemented— from hospitals to physician groups— providers will inevitably need to spend some time getting their support staff up to speed. While RPM solutions are becoming increasingly accessible and intuitive, there’s still a substantial learning curve, particularly for non-technical team members.
Nurses, assistants, and other clinical care specialists will need to feel comfortable interacting with the systems themselves before they’re able to effectively train consumers and patients. However, as your team becomes more accustomed to the ins-and-outs of your RPM framework, these investments will pay off with outsized returns.
For example, in a case study conducted by one of illumisoft’s chief research partners, the organization’s clinical staff has become extremely comfortable working with RPM technology— so much so that they’re practically doubling as an IT support team themselves.
Although several different RPM devices have been deployed, the team is now intimately familiar with troubleshooting processes, allowing them to proactively assist participants in a variety of challenges. This experience not only allows staff members to collect, analyze, and present healthcare data in clinically-relevant ways. It also enables them to work directly with both patients and manufacturers in working through serious flaws or bugs in a particular RPM device.
Put Heavy Focus into Patient Adoption
Arguably one of the most important components of having a successful experience with RPMs is to ensure the full adoption of the patient using it. It’s important to select the appropriate patients for your program and to guide them step-by-step through the process in order to help set them up for long-term engagement and success. Here are a few best practices for facilitating a seamless RPM experience:
- Provide quality education resources. Patients that have an in-depth understanding of the benefits and advantages that an RPM system can provide will inevitably feel more confident and willing to engage, even if the technology is a bit unfamiliar.
- Listen to feedback and iterate. Although your remote patient monitoring system will likely experience a few speed bumps at the beginning, gathering feedback and making continuous improvements will help rapidly improve the quality of patient experiences.
- Identify the most important needs. When setting up an RPM system, you’ll likely encounter a variety of trade-offs. Whether you’re prioritizing patient experience or looking to gather more data, having a clear understanding of your own goals will significantly improve outcomes.
No matter how sophisticated of a system you build, if adoption by your patient population is not high, the effectiveness and impact of your RPM program will be minimal. Organizations that fail to establish quality participant experiences will, in turn, be forced to spend more time on in-person or telehealth visits, eliminating the synergies and advantages your RPM systems have the potential to provide. Be sure to make patient satisfaction one of the top priorities in designing every RPM routine.
An important part of creating a new healthcare program is establishing benchmarks to track progress. The process of gathering and analyzing data will provide insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your RPM program, allowing you to identify where further iterations are needed. Still, gathering data alone isn’t enough— organizations must have clear ideas about their objectives if they truly desire to make meaningful improvements.
For instance, the type of care in question is a major driver in determining the right objectives for an RPM system. Whereas chronic care programs will demand more attention to Medicare requirements and long-term data analytics, acute/critical care situations (such as managing patient conditions after surgery) will involve a higher degree of interaction and attention over a shorter period of time.
As a result, each system will offer a different methodology and risk profile for participant engagement, and goals should be tailored to meet these specific needs. Additionally, organizations that are optimizing for cost will need to fine-tune their objectives as well. Are you looking to reduce costs associated with frequent in-person visits, or do you intend to minimize occurrences of expensive, unexpected hospitalization events? Even when the goal is the same— reducing the impact of patient care on your bottom line— the specific nature of these expenditures can dramatically influence the type of goal you set.
Once you have a general direction for the objectives you’d like to set, you’ll need a framework for evaluating results. Many providers will recommend the use of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). This methodology for goal-setting allows healthcare providers to make a levelheaded, realistic assessment of their performance against a particular set of objectives. As feedback is gathered from internal and external stakeholders, organizations will continue to build an improved understanding of how these goals can be adjusted to produce better results and patient outcomes.
Be Part of the Process
In the healthcare world, different programs can have vastly different needs, even within a single organization. This is especially true when you’re talking about something as vital as an RPM system. For patients and staff alike, this paradigm shift can feel like a daunting challenge, and significant effort will be required to meet the needs of all parties. While a one-size-fits-all approach may work in some situations, these platforms rarely meet participant expectations, and will likely fail to provide the same types of patient outcomes that a customized software solution would.
In this respect, an experienced solution provider like illumisoft can be an important ally in rolling out a cutting-edge remote patient monitoring system. With illumisoft, providers can take the guesswork out of implementing their RPM programs, equipping teams with the tools needed to offer patients the best remote healthcare experience possible. With a simplified data automation suite and flexible, customizable components for a variety of healthcare use cases, illumisoft stands apart as an industry leader in remote healthcare solutions.