It is estimated that 50% of the U.S. population has a chronic disease, and caring for them is consuming 86% of healthcare costs.
Many organizations still rely on traditional chronic care models characterized by periodic in-person encounters that can be inconvenient, expensive and insufficiently frequent. The question is: How will hospitals provide more robust, timely and cost-efficient care moving forward?
Some health systems are beginning to reconfigure care models to proactively care for patients with chronic conditions and illnesses, and a key component of this is implementing remote patient monitoring services. RPM allows for patients to share data in a non-clinical setting (like their home) and receive care assessments and recommendations between visits.
To get insights into this technologically enhanced care for chronic conditions, we talked with Sarah Carroll, director of the Center for Care Transformation at AVIA, a healthcare digital transformation technology and services company.
Q. You believe strongly that RPM technologies are the future of healthcare. Please explain.
A. In the past, health systems expected consumers to come to them, delivering care in hospitals and clinics. Times have changed. The pandemic proved that smarter, more convenient care is possible, thanks to innovative care models powered by digital solutions.
We also can’t ignore the simple fact that the U.S. population is getting older and sicker – within the next 10 years there will be more older adults than kids. And of this aging population, two in five adults will have three or more chronic conditions. Seniors want to avoid costly nursing homes and will need help living independently.
The most advanced health systems have recognized these converging trends and are moving rapidly to differentiate themselves with more care-at-home options. Early indicators suggest that remote patient monitoring is one of those essential capabilities in healthcare that supports the Triple Aim:
It improves the care experience by offering convenient care at home.
It supports better outcomes through data collection and proactive intervention.
It can prevent avoidable emergency utilization and associated costs.
At least 70% of the more than 55 health systems in the AVIA Network already have adopted at least one remote monitoring solution. Over half of them use two or more solutions, including connected platforms that sync with dozens of devices as well as condition-specific solutions that specialize in a particular service line.
Q. How can RPM improve chronic care management?
A. Remote monitoring solutions are widely popular because they are widely extensible. They’ve been used in a variety of non-clinical settings, from homes to schools, for a variety of conditions, from asthma to COVID. In our research, we’ve found most of the action focused on monitoring four primary chronic conditions: hypertension, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes.
Remote patient monitoring improves chronic care management by collecting and sharing biometric data and patient-reported insights with care teams who evaluate trends and intervene, if necessary. Leading solutions engage patients with data, education and nudges to increase self-care.
They support care teams with risk stratification, configurable alerts and clinical guidelines. The best solutions maximize adoption and engagement by making their products and services as accessible to as many people as possible, including those with language, literacy, cognitive and technology barriers.
Q. How can RPM help rein in soaring healthcare costs?
A. Consumers and payers are demanding greater affordability and increasingly view hospital care as one of the most expensive aspects of healthcare. Remote monitoring shifts care from hospital to home and can delay or reduce disease progression and costly treatments.
A significant number of medium- to high-risk patients with chronic conditions are healthy enough to be at home but require ongoing touchpoints to monitor their conditions.
Done well, remote patient monitoring can reduce the risk of avoidable hospital visits, long stays and readmissions. We’ve estimated that for every 500 high-risk Medicare patients with multiple chronic conditions, health systems can realize $5.2 million in annual cost savings.