Setting up a remote patient monitoring (RPM) program sounds simple — just have patients use healthcare devices and collect the data! However, the reality of getting an RPM program off the ground is quite complex, with many small but crucial considerations and logistics to navigate through.
RPM programs are still well worth the investment, leading to better patient outcomes, stronger patient-provider-health system relationships, higher provider satisfaction, and improved efficiency. The true challenge lies not merely in getting an RPM program started, but in doing so in a cost-effective and efficient way. The stakes are high not just in terms of budgets but in the potential disruptions to time, workflows, and patient care caused by mistakes.
Let’s look at the common hurdles that health systems run into when establishing RPM programs — and outline a strategy to streamline the entire process.
Why RPM Program Costs Can Escalate
An effective RPM program requires you to coordinate many different products and services so that they work together seamlessly:
Poor device vetting. Choosing the right devices is a pivotal decision that can significantly impact both your budget and the success of your RPM program. Take the seemingly simple choice between a device with cellular connectivity and one with Bluetooth. Initially, Bluetooth devices can look more cost-effective — yet cellular devices often end up saving money when the RPM program is considered as a whole.
How so? With Bluetooth devices, patients often have to deal with additional tasks such as downloading apps, creating additional user accounts, re-establishing connections if accidentally turned off, and other troubleshooting concerns. As a result, more patients are likely to encounter challenges — and give up on using the device altogether. That translates into wasted resources and poorer patient health outcomes. Cellular devices, on the other hand, offer seamless data transmission without relying on existing Wi-Fi networks or smartphone connections, and cellular hub models centralize data transmission, eliminating the need for patients to manage multiple device connections and improving patient engagement in RPM programs.
Connectivity choice is just one of the many important factors that must be considered. Other key questions include: Is the device accurate and clinically effective? Can the manufacturing company be trusted to provide strong technical support? Are the devices user-friendly? Will the size and weight of the products work for the patient population? Can the device transmit data accurately, securely, and automatically to the care team platform, all while staying in compliance with HIPAA rules? All of these issues must be evaluated before a device is selected for an RPM program.
Inefficient shipping and logistics. Even though many health systems have RPM programs today, most are not equipped or designed to distribute medical devices. After all, operating a distribution system demands a considerable investment in materials and resources, from space to store equipment to an efficient process for ordering, receiving, sorting, selecting, packing, and shipping items sourced from multiple vendors.
Navigating these challenges requires a comprehensive understanding of the logistics involved in managing medical devices within a healthcare system. Without that foundational know-how, the costs of establishing and maintaining a distribution system can quickly balloon.
It's also essential to consider the logistics of managing these devices within healthcare systems. Legacy device logistics options often provide pre-defined kits that may not align with clinical necessity, leading to inefficiencies and wasted resources. A more flexible approach that considers individual patient needs can optimize device use.
Misuse of clinical staff time. Implementing an RPM program demands individuals with specialized skills — those who understand the ins and outs of device selection and can efficiently manage shipping and logistics. If your existing team lacks this expertise, you're looking at the need to hire and train — a process that comes with a hefty price tag.
Even worse is assigning logistical and troubleshooting tasks to highly skilled healthcare professionals, who should focus on patient care. Not only is that a significant drain on their time, but it also adds to the burden – and potential for burnout – on clinical staff, especially when the healthcare workforce is already stretched thin.
How to Streamline Your RPM Budget
While poor choices can easily make your RPM spending skyrocket, the common pitfalls are entirely avoidable. Here are the steps to sidestep them successfully.
Make Smart Device Choices. Make sure your program selects devices tailored to the needs of your health system and your patient population. Enlist an expert with technical know-how and sophisticated evaluation criteria to ensure cost-effective technology meets all your requirements. You might explore partnerships with reliable vendors for the most effective devices, streamlining workflows for everyone involved.
Connect the System. Smooth data gathering is crucial, especially for demonstrating program benefits. To ensure this, devices should work together, directing data flow through an efficient EMR system. Establish a well-integrated system for optimal performance, and consider a service to handle configuration for maximum efficiency.
Enlist a Shipping and Logistics Solution. Avoid burdening your staff with the administrative tasks of buying and shipping devices. This approach will also be more cost-effective than requiring your staff to manage multiple device vendors separately. Instead, choose a vendor capable of managing the ordering, shipping, and handling process for all devices from all vendors.
The success of your RPM program depends on all the many components working together seamlessly. If your health system isn't set up to manage the program in-house, partnering with a vendor that provides a comprehensive solution can significantly simplify and speed up the implementation and operation of your program, all while controlling your costs.
Veta Health’s Prosper Dispatch offers a holistic solution to streamline and optimize your RPM program. By centralizing device management, Prosper Dispatch ensures logistical coordination and simplifies implementation within the intricate healthcare ecosystem. If you’d like to learn more about how Prosper Dispatch can support your RPM program, get in touch to start a conversation.