The Covid-19 pandemic has placed a heavy burden on healthcare workers for nearly two years. Overworked and burned out, many in the industry have elected to retire earlier than planned, seek work elsewhere, or leave the industry altogether.
However, even before the Covid-19 pandemic, physician shortages were being felt across the country. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) conducted a report in 2019 that estimated a shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians by 2034 across primary care and specialties.
On top of a pre-existing healthcare labor shortage, hospitals and health facilities are quickly running out of options for maintaining standards of care. For example, according to an annual survey from the American College of Healthcare Executives, staffing shortages were hospital CEOs' number one concern in 2021. Another poll conducted by MGMA Stat found that 73% of medical practices reported staffing as their biggest challenge heading into 2022.
It's clear that a new model is needed to lighten workloads, reduce burnout, and ease the burden of staffing shortages. So, how do we do more with less? One approach, thanks to advances in digital health technology, offers remote patient monitoring (RPM) as a strategy that can go a long way towards helping with staffing needs.
5 ways RPM can mitigate staffing shortages
#1. Low-acuity calls can be handled via RPM
Since RPM connects clinicians virtually instantly with relevant patient data, it makes their daily routines more efficient and eases the possibility of burnout. By creating a system where people are more engaged with, and accountable for, their health, patients are more likely to follow their prescribed health plan, improving their own health prospects in the process. They can get their questions answered easier and faster than waiting for an in-office appointment and gain a better understanding of their vitals and treatment plan from home.
#2. Digitally escalate patient needs through real-time alerts
RPM allows care teams to receive real-time alerts about escalating symptoms when a reading is outside a pre-defined norm. When alerted, the care team can contact that patient to understand why the change occurred and which steps should be taken to get the patient's vital(s) under control. Placing patient reliance on technology itself rather than requiring/relying on the intervention of staff at all times enables patients to become active participants in their care and reduces staffing burden.
#3. Reduce the need for in-person care
RPM enables practices to see patients with more urgent needs in-office while maintaining a high level of care and continuous monitoring for those who are at home. Providers can virtually monitor patients' vitals, send them important reminders, and help them reach their optimal health outcomes without needing to physically see them. This reduces the need for in-person healthcare services by lowering readmission rates and preventing unexpected visits to the emergency department - two factors that can overwhelm staff and raise healthcare costs.
#4. Greater provider capacity and care access
RPM can enable and empower patients to take better control of their own care. RPM helps to develop consistent measuring techniques, can change self-management behaviors, and records their readings consistently and accurately, as opposed to self-reporting or just when they visit their provider in the office. By providing virtual check-ins and assessments, patients can get the care they need with minimal effort and cost. This way, patients can feel comfortable knowing that supportive resources are available to them when they are not directly in the doctor’s office.
#5. Simplify clinical workflows by engaging an RPM partner
Care Management teams have become valuable resources and are essential for driving patient engagement in a consistent manner. Many organizations choose to outsource their RPM program to a contracted RPM vendor. This can be accomplished when there is a direct contractual relationship between the billing provider and RPM clinical service provider. For example, with Veta Health's RPM solution, our RPM Care Management Team monitors patients' vitals data, identifies at-risk patients, documents all interactions, and provides feedback for care plan adjustments, if necessary.
Support staff with remote care
Simply put, no matter where a patient or provider is located, RPM allows them to connect. Further, by utilizing a dedicated and outsourced RPM vendor, providers can be more efficient by focusing on patients who are physically present in the clinical setting. This can help fill the gaps felt by staffing shortages by freeing-up high-demand resources to go where they're needed, when they're needed.
To learn more about how Veta Health can help ease the burden of staffing shortages by continually providing ongoing support, timely information, and personalized resources that extend care beyond ambulatory settings, check out our recent toolkit.