The Rise and Challenges of Remote Patient Monitoring

Kate Vergara
Jun 8, 2020

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is the process of providing and assisting a patient with their treatment from a distance. The year 2020 is said to be a culmination of all RPM efforts, but COVID-19 accelerated its adoption and implementation. Overwhelmed healthcare facilities continue to free up hospital space for serious case COVID-19 patients. Non-urgent practices are forced to close, so doctors and patients strive to work around minimal personal contact mandates.

This paved the way for new methods of collaboration between patients and their healthcare providers, especially found in RPM. This has also helped minimize and control healthcare costs, improve patient care quality, and widen accessibility for those who live in rural areas.

The Challenges in RPM

In the 2020 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, the CMS finalized reimbursement charges to RPM services. This opened doors to how RPM can provide new and flexible ways of furnishing services to patients. This was also promising for those looking for better solutions to care for high-risk, chronically ill patients who cannot travel long distances for admission. However, progress doesn’t come without any hurdles.

On top of the inadequate supply of digital tools is the lack of user training. Doctors don’t have the luxury of time to spend an additional 10 minutes teaching patients how to set-up and use the technology. They’re more hard-pressed now with COVID-19 as they send more and more vulnerable patients home to avoid infection.

Video conferences require stable internet access, up-to-date devices, and software or platform. Wearable monitoring technologies and symptom triage solutions are also costly. Patients also need gadgets like tablets, smartphones, or watches like FitBit to transmit health data to providers in real-time.

The Interim Solution

The shift to RPM healthcare delivery entails many considerations and conditions to meet the standards. However, providers don’t have the luxury of time to educate and assist patients with the technicalities. This is where virtual medical assistants come in.

For RPM, VMAs can prepare patients for their appointment. VMAs can begin by identifying the patient’s available tools and devices and their technical capabilities. For patients that need extra assistance, they take in the role of assisting patients through each process.

VMAs can also serve as an extension of the physician in tracking the patient’s vitals and essential information. They also provide the necessary follow-up on the patients’ medication. Finally, they are also tasked to relay necessary information between the physician and patient.

Moving forward, Remote Patient Monitoring is a new system that serves as a bridge between physician and patient and a novel way of providing long-distance care for patients.

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