By: Sharmeen Jilla, MSW/MPH, Strategic Account Manager, Vivify Health

In honor of Telehealth Awareness Week™, September 19-25, Vivify Health is sharing highlights from four RPM success stories.

As much as we’d all like to be able to flip a switch and have a robust remote patient monitoring (RPM) operation in place, it’s never that simple. Establishing a competent RPM program requires committed leadership, tools and technology that work, as well as sufficient trust from the patient population being served.

A multi-pronged approach can produce remarkable results and allow providers to extend their influence on the lives of patients well beyond the four walls of the hospital.

Four health systems have shown capabilities to stand up their respective RPM operations and make them work effectively for the unique and complex needs of their patient populations. Below are their success stories:

1. Selecting the right patients

Indiana-based Deaconess Health System was an early adopter of RPM technology more than a decade ago, but still sought room for improvement to its processes.

In light of its legacy technology phasing out in 2018, Deaconess recognized that a key to reestablishing the success of its RPM program and lowering its readmissions rate was selecting the right patients to participate.

This approach utilized a tool from the health system’s EHR that creates a readmission risk score to help separate the best candidates for RPM from those for whom it would have little (if any) benefit.

“We didn’t want to let our enthusiasm for RPM cloud our judgment on who to select,” Allison

Flowers, RN, Telehealth Clinical Manager at Deaconess, said. “We will occasionally allow patients in the 10% to 19% risk zone in if we see other factors that might cause a readmission, but we really try to stay with those who are in the 20% and above risk score range. We wanted patients who were not too sick but sick enough. They are our sweet spot.”

The system initially targeted patients with chronic heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, reporting a decline in the 30-day readmission rate for the RPM population.

2. Patients automatically opted into RPM

At Trinity Health, Home Care Connect™ is the system’s standard of care. If a patient is at risk for re-hospitalization, RPM is included in the plan of care, and patients are automatically placed into the program.

The protocol includes eight weeks of automated digital conversation aligned to a patient’s care

pathways, which address specific chronic conditions. The patient follows the tablet’s voice and

text instructions and device information to self-report vital health information and answers condition-specific questions. The more the patient learns, the more compliant the patient becomes, which ultimately delivers better outcomes.

“We expanded our virtual care offerings in response to a need we saw outside of Trinity Health,” Karen Joyce, MSN, BSN, RN, Vice President of Clinical and Virtual Operations at Trinity Health At Home, said. “ACOs and other commercial payers found us to be efficient and effective with virtual care monitoring.”

Another key aspect to the success of Trinity’s RPM program was the strong support from Trinity’s executive leadership team and the organization’s commitment to caring for high-risk patients at home.

3. Involve leaders and be operationally ready

To accomplish your most meaningful RPM ambitions, you need leaders who share the same goals.

Similar to Trinity, Tanner Health System, which serves residents in west Georgia and east Alabama, saw its RPM program take off due to the involvement of senior leaders and the organization’s operational readiness.

This strategic investment proved even more crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic when Tanner supplied some of its most vulnerable patients with RPM kits to continue their care journey at home.

One patient, who was hospitalized for more than a month after contracting COVID-19, was strong enough to return home but required additional monitoring to ensure his recovery progressed as planned.

He told Tanner that having Bluetooth-enabled devices checking on his temperature, oxygen levels, and other vital signs gave him peace of mind as he recovered in the comfort of his own home.

4. RPM to bolster telehealth

Many provider organizations stood up their telehealth operations quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic in response to outstanding patient demand and the temporary suspension of elective in-person procedures.

While treatment continued virtually, telehealth alone was not enough for some marginalized populations.

Banyan Community Health Center in South Florida recognized that its patients required mental health coverage in addition to chronic care.

To achieve its ambitions, Banyan applied and received a special grant of nearly $1 million from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fund its telehealth and RPM programs.

On a two-week timeline, Banyan launched its Intensive Telehealth Unit (ITU) and RPM program, which applied to 2,000 patients in the Miami-Dade area and seven clinical pathways: virtual visits with biometrics, hypertension, depression, COVID-19, substance use, anxiety, and diabetes.

The program even elicited praise when FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr recognized Banyan’s success earlier this summer.

“Banyan Community Health in Miami went from zero telehealth visits in 2019 to 90k in 2020 with Covid + social distancing,” Carr tweeted. “With FCC funding, they provided 500 connected kits to their low-income patients, among other steps, and saw a 60% reduction in hospital visits.”

About the author:

Sharmeen Jilla, MSW/MPH, is a Strategic Account Manager at Vivify Health, the developer of the nation’s leading connected care platform for remote patient care. To access RPM case studies, visit https://www.vivifyhealth.com/resources/.

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