February 8, 2022

RPM Program Flaws: Why Remote Patient Monitoring Doesn’t Always Work

Alicia Ingrezza
February 8, 2022
min read

Most telehealth platforms and providers pitch remote patient monitoring (RPM) as a ‘silver bullet’ for the healthcare industry. Adoption has been swift and there are hundreds of virtual care startups to choose from.

By 2018, 60% of American hospitals had already implemented some level of remote patient monitoring or virtual care management, and 68% of physicians who were surveyed strongly intended to add remote monitoring to their practice by 2020. Flexible telehealth billing options and lucrative RPM reimbursement rates allow doctors to increase revenue and reduce costs for patients.

But not all remote care management platforms are equal, and virtual care doesn’t always yield positive outcomes. As you compare telehealth partners, watch out for these red flags and flaws:

1. Tech Hurdles: Inaccessible and Unreliable

Not all patients have consistent access to cellular service or web-enabled devices. At-risk patients, including the elderly, people of color, and members of rural communities, are the most affected by virtual care technology barriers. A 2020 Pew Research Study also shows that these populations have the most benefits to gain if they can unlock equitable access.

The solution: Remote disease management programs must provide approved devices directly to patients along with user-friendly technology training for faster onboarding and better adoption.

2. Data without Action

Consistent health tracking can provide physicians with a more complete picture of the patient’s health and progress over time. However, vitals tracking and symptom monitoring are only effective if healthcare providers choose to act on it.

The solution: RPM programs should be backed by a dedicated, engaged healthcare team. AI-driven data tools can help physicians detect health declines faster with predictive behavior metrics.

3. Delayed Responses

Virtual care management should be fully integrated as an extension of brick-and-mortar services. Many RPM programs fail patients by limiting the next steps with inflexible follow-ups. Some physicians only see remote monitoring as a data collection tool. When the device detects an ‘actionable event,’ many patients are pushed toward traditional interventions, like in-person appointments, but scheduling delays and travel restrictions can delay care.

The solution: Telehealth must include virtual health coaching, same-day communication channels, and flexible appointment options to ensure that patients are seen faster.

4. Lack of Education

At-home data tracking with wearables and other telehealth devices is only valuable when measurements are accurate. Some studies estimate up to 25% error margins for physical activity trackers, and the risk is even higher for more complex monitoring devices.

Self-management is a powerful tool for patients with chronic conditions, and there are dozens of educational programs to choose from. Virtual health coaching has also been shown to increase outcomes and reduce the risk of preventable comorbidity. And yet, many care management programs are limited to passive data tracking.

The solution: Patients and providers must both take an active role in the process. RPM data has been proven to support joint decision-making, but only when paired with patient education programs and training to accurately use devices.

Privacy concerns earn an honorable mention, causing skepticism for many patients and liability worries among doctors. Data security is non-negotiable as the foundation of any responsible telehealth platform.

Welby Health is HIPAA-compliant and NCQA-accredited with a dedicated team of licensed RNs and certified case managers. Visit our website to learn more about remote monitoring done right.

Alicia Ingrezza
11 Jan 2022
5 min read

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