Remote patient monitoring, also known as RPM, refers to a telehealth practice that enables medical practitioners to remotely monitor patients’ health and make a diagnosis. RPM moves beyond the boundaries of a clinical setting as the presence of the patient and health practitioner in the same physical space is no longer required. With RPM being a mobile practice, it not only enhances healthcare in underprivileged areas but also serves as the best strategy to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
Coronavirus is airborne and capable of surviving on surfaces. It spreads just like the common flu and is transmitted via physical contact. Since there’s no vaccine or cure for the disease, the only preventive measure suggested is social distancing. As we witness a global lockdown, remote patient monitoring seems like a viable approach for seamlessly providing healthcare to those in need. In this article, we prescribe 5 remote patient monitoring tips to facilitate services via telehealth.
The Need for RPM amid COVID-19
COVID-19 might not be the deadliest strain of viruses mankind has ever seen but it sure is dangerous. Despite the chances of death reported to be around 0.1%, Coronavirus is not to be taken lightly. It’s a completely new strain, different from its predecessors, that has never infected humans before.
We don’t have natural immunity for COVID-19 and it is spread through asymptotic carriers. This means, no one is immune to COVID-19. Since there is no vaccine, the only effective mitigation strategy is social distancing.
Existing healthcare needs of people don’t vanish because of COVID-19. Remote patient monitoring allows you to provide services without exposing people to the risk of Coronavirus. RPM can help you deal with COVID-19 by helping you maintain social distancing as it allows access to health services without having to be physically present at a clinical facility.
This minimizes the chances of the spread without compromising on healthcare standards. Here are a few tips to facilitate telehealth practitioners:
1. Identify the Need
Telehealth covers a variety of areas. Before starting things off, you need to consider whether your area of practice is suitable for RPM or not. For example, areas of healthcare where physical presence is necessary RPM is not applicable – radiology, pathology, surgery are some obvious areas.
Even here though, you will find that you can still implement some aspects of telehealth such as systems that allow for the administrative staff to operate remotely. Furthermore, if you’re aiming to target general healthcare provision, it’s better to shortlist underprivileged areas to enhance access to care.
2. Choose the Right People
Planning isn’t the only strenuous obstacle, what comes next might even be more difficult. Telehealth is a bit different from traditional healthcare service provision in a clinical setting. The digital aspect of telehealth requires you to find and hire people with a diverse skill set.
You need people who are not only adept at their specific area of healthcare but also good communicators in a remote work setting and comfortable with technology. You also need self-starters and problem solvers – people that are productive with minimal supervision.
3. Design Transparent Workflows
Having well-established workflows is of critical importance in RPM, especially because it is a very new way for a medical practice to operate. Furthermore, if your staff is working remotely as well, you don’t even have the luxury of walking up to each other to resolve issues. Since people’s health is literally depending on your operations, it is critically important to answer the following questions:
- Who does what?
- What are the emergency channels of communication?
- How does the information flow between admins, doctors, pathologists, etc?
4. Choose the Right Tools
When it comes to tools related to healthcare or your clinical practice, you are the experts. However, we do have recommendations for the tools that represent the digital side of telehealth. One of the critical issues of being operational in a remote work setting is team coordination.
You need a system that ensures that all key stakeholders such as doctors, nurses, administration, technology, and support staff are able to coordinate seamlessly even though they are not physically present at an on-site facility.
Furthermore, you need a platform that facilitates service delivery. This encompasses your core operations such as scheduling appointments, interacting with patients, providing consultations, answering patients’ queries, and sharing documents (lab reports, prescriptions and billing documents, etc).
For a smaller practice, uShare.to, is an example of a great choice. It is a web-based platform that enables you to host audio/video conferences, group chat, share files, schedule appointments, collaborate with teams and so much more. uShare is an award-winning HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant software with enterprise-grade security. You can use it in a number of ways:
- Create a dedicated space for each patient where you have online video consultations, answer ongoing questions via chat, and share information
- Allow medical teams to coordinate via group chat, video conferencing, tasks, etc.
- Schedule appointments for patients
uShare is a cloud-based software that can be accessed anywhere without having to download any additional apps or add-ons. All you need is an internet connection, making it suitable for smaller operations. Larger operations might want to consider enterprise-grade solutions like SimplePractice and CareCloud.
5. Educate Your Stakeholders
Remote patient monitoring is different from old school clinical practice. It is essential to educate your stakeholders about the transition in service delivery to ensure the success of your model. Patient engagement is the prerequisite for success in remote patient monitoring. Not everyone is familiar with the telehealth industry or how it operates. So, you might have to educate your patients in order to help them embrace the change.
Not only your patients, but your staff must also realize the significance of the program and have a clear vision of what’s expected from them. That’s the reason we prescribed having transparent workflows earlier. Furthermore, you can’t expect someone to perform if you haven’t trained them for it. So, training plays a crucial role here.
Remote patient monitoring brings all-around benefits to key stakeholders in telehealth. It ensures minimal disruption to the provision of healthcare while keeping healthcare professionals and patients safe at times like these. In this article, we prescribed 5 remote patient monitoring tips in telehealth. Tell us what you think of our recommendations in the comment section below.