By Uri Bettesh, CEO Datos Health
For both patients and healthcare providers, rehospitalization after release from inpatient care is not a desirable scenario. From an emotional perspective, hospital readmission can leave patients disappointed, frustrated and stressed –with potential negative impact on clinical outcomes. From a financial perspective, readmission costs insurers and health systems billions every year –returning patients from the most cost-effective care alternative, the home, to the most costly. Even worse, hospitals are generally not reimbursed for care of patients readmitted within 30 days. Finally, in the midst of the pandemic, readmission strains already overburdened hospital resources.
There are many scenarios in which readmission is unavoidable and medically warranted. Yet readmission often represents a breakdown of care rather than an actual deterioration of a patient’s condition.
To avoid and reduce hospital readmissions, many healthcare organizations are turning to advanced Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) solutions. For almost all types of at-home care-from transition of care from hospital to home, actual home hospitalization for more acute patients, health maintenance and everything in-between-RPM is revolutionizing patient comfort and standard of care, while lowering the burden on care teams, keeping costs in check, and dramatically reducing hospital readmissions.
Great for Patients, Great for Care
Remote patient monitoring systems allow patients to be closely monitored with connected wearables and medical devices like pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs and fitness trackers. After setup, these devices interface seamlessly with the RPM system via the patient’s smartphone, tablet, or other computing device. Real-time data regularly and securely flows to remote servers and is analyzed automatically with AI-powered software for automated triage and feedback.
RPM systems offer patients the reassurance of knowing that their progress is on track – delivering automated recommendations to help alleviate detected symptoms, like making moderate dietary or lifestyle changes. Those patients in need of synchronous interaction with a caregiver can be routed to an instant virtual meeting upon detection of an issue or prompted to schedule an in-person visit.
With RPM, patients are no longer dependent on periodic home, in-person, or virtual visits from care team members. Monitoring becomes an ongoing process – just part of the daily at-home routine. RPM patients can actually forget they’re being monitored unless a problem is detected.
Raising Patient Confidence and Engagement
Remote monitoring offers patients a new level of confidence in both their care and their surroundings and can help prevent serious adverse events by identifying concerning trends early. Patients on a remote care plan gain peace of mind from accurate and ongoing medical oversight, while retaining the freedom and nurture of healing in a familiar environment with the support of loved ones. By leaving patients in their comfort zones and providing continuous monitoring and treatment adjustment, RPM systems can have significant positive impact on both patient state of mind and clinical outcome.
What’s more, advanced RPM solutions more deeply engage patients in their own care. The more involved patients are, the more likely they will adhere to care guidelines – contributing to better long-term outcomes.
One reason remote care is so effective at patient engagement is that digital devices, even those remotely accessed and operated, facilitate self-monitoring. Together with remote caregiver encouragement and automatically-provided context-specific content about diagnosis, treatment plans, medications and more – RPM improves patient understanding of their own health and empowers them to take ownership of their own health journey.
By providing a viable and user-friendly alternative to resource-intensive home care, remote care enables higher-quality, higher-touch in-home care. This reduces hospital readmissions by ensuring that medical conditions remain tightly controlled, patient comfort levels and morale remain high, and problems are flagged and handled well before they spiral into crises.
Great for Care Teams, Great for Healthcare Organizations
The new gold standard of RPM solutions is a sea of change for both care teams and healthcare organizations and contributes markedly to reducing hospital readmissions.
An automated remote patient monitoring system frees care teams from crucial yet tedious monitoring of patient vitals such as weight, temperature, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, glucose levels, and heart rate, while providing the care teams with granular, up-to-date data on their patients. This enables care teams to focus their attention on the patients that need it most at any given moment, while still feeling confident that all patients in their care are closely monitored.
RPM systems schedule, initiate and conduct ongoing monitoring of vitals without the need for care-team intervention based on predefined clinical workflows. This data is constantly aggregated and analyzed to provide an always-updated snapshot of patient health whenever clinicians need it. The system issues immediate alerts if measurements exceed customizable ranges – enabling care teams to reach out to the patient via two-way communication or virtual visit. Clinicians can ask the patient to provide a repeat reading, discuss treatment options or immediate actions, and decide in real-time about next steps.
All this enables providers, hospitals, and health systems to prioritize those most at risk of rehospitalization, without compromising important ongoing care of less critical patients. Remote patient care enables care teams to proactively reduce readmissions by closely monitoring clinical changes and intervening quickly to change treatment, medication, or take other actions that facilitate positive outcomes.
The Bottom Line
Remote patient monitoring is highly effective in reducing hospital readmissions by allowing clinicians to create sustainable and clinically productive virtual relationships with patients. With the proper tools – like those created by Datos Health – RPM can deliver happier, healthier patients, while dramatically lowering costs for healthcare providers – a true win-win.