As healthcare is shifting from a fee-for-service to a value-based care approach, healthcare delivery has also started to shift from an episodic, in-clinic model to one that is continuous and a blend of in-clinic and remote. With the increased interest in digital health technologies in Covid-19 pandemic that enabled healthcare provision without physical interactions, it’s not a surprise that Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) exploded onto the health care scene.
While the pandemic has highlighted the value of monitoring, managing, and treating patients outside the clinical care setting, RPM programs have proven to serve as a strong extension to in-person services. The system empowers patients to take ownership of their own health care journey, but consistent patient engagement is the key to producing better health outcomes and improving patient experiences. Each patient has a different level of health literacy and a willingness to participate in the RPM Program which can make patient engagement more difficult than expected.
To foster this two-way communication, we’ve listed 5 engagement tactics to improve patient engagement for a successful implementation of the RPM program.
1. Overcome Patient’s Fear of Change
For healthcare providers, getting a patient to adhere to a new treatment plan can be one the toughest aspects of delivering healthcare. While Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) has rapidly been adapted for the treatment of a variety of patient populations, healthcare providers face challenges when introducing RPM to elderly patients. The idea of moving away from traditional medicine is one of the major concerns among older patients as the majority of patients still find in-person care more effective than virtual care in terms of clinical outcomes.
A 2019 research conducted by Leading Age found that 68% of older adults had concerns that the quality of care received via technology would not be as good as a face-to-face visit, and 49% did not feel personally connected to their healthcare provider without seeing them in-person. That being said, it’s crucial to inform patients that RPM is not meant to replace in-person care, but it rather works as a tool to support and supplement the traditional methods of care.
RPM allows following up on care for chronic medical conditions instead of completely replacing in-person visits – enhancing clinical insights between office visits and providing a more longitudinal care model.
2. Create Patient-Specific Medical Goals
As healthcare providers and care managers are increasingly incorporating person-centered care in their work, it is important to remember that a person-centered care begins with knowing the individual’s goals, and addressing their preferences and needs. In fact, patient engagement in setting goals has been demonstrated to affect not only their participation in and adherence to treatment, but their health outcomes and quality of life.
In remote patient monitoring programs where there are ongoing measurements and data reporting, patients find more motivation in seeing their progress when they create patient-specific goals. This helps make patients become more actively involved in their healthcare journey, giving a sense of purpose and accomplishment throughout the RPM program.
Setting S.M.A.R.T Goals is a great base to ensure that both the individual and care manager understand the ultimate goal and create patient-driven action plans. To transform wishful thinking into an actual S.M.A.R.T. Goal, patients and care managers can work together to put some parameters around the what, how and when of the desired outcomes. “I will lose 10 pounds in the next 90 days by exercising five times a week” is a great example to an actual S.M.A.R.T. goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, and timely.
3. Increase Patient Comfort with RPM Technology
A new study reveals that fear of making mistakes and wider concerns about social responsibility are among the reasons why older people are rejecting digital technologies. The lack of technical assistance and education in RPM programs often leaves older patients directionless and frustrated, decreasing their overall engagement throughout the program. From providing educational videos for device setup to ongoing technical support, care managers play a significant role for patients who need assistance to get the full benefits out of the RPM program.
From a technological view, types of devices used for RPM also have a significant effect on patients’ comfort with the program. While some RPM devices require patients to download a smartphone app, others may use cellular data or Bluetooth connection to transmit patient information to the provider.
For instance, Bluetooth RPM devices send patient data over wireless connections to devices only when they are able to connect to the internet. Patients need internet access, and a Bluetooth-capable device to be able to transmit their data to the provider. Along with the additional challenge of setting up the Bluetooth RPM device, this option is quite challenging for older populations.
On the other hand, cellular RPM devices collect and transmit patient health information via the same networks that smartphones do. Therefore, RPM devices that require cellular networks are more reliable, as patients can transmit their information from anywhere their provider’s network is available. This makes these devices a more user-friendly option for older patients who may not be as tech-savvy. As a result, patient engagement is improved.
4. Provide the Right combination of Technology and People
Just because remote patient monitoring doesn’t require direct clinical contact doesn’t mean nurses or patients aren’t fully engaged. For improved patient engagement, technology should be paired with human connections to improve health outcomes and retention over the long term. In fact, human interactions with healthcare professionals on a regular basis – whether in person or over the phone – have been shown to improve health, medication adherence, and preventative care.
RPM programs designed with the right combination of technology and people will not only improve day-to-day well-being of the patients, but will also contribute to the loyal relationship with the physician practices.
5. Address Patient Concerns About Data Privacy
According to the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging, 49% of older adults reported being concerned about privacy during telemedicine visits. Older adults who are used to face-to-face encounters with doctors are worried about the security risks of their health data stored and shared with digital devices as well as if their data is secure and immune to data breaches.
Additionally, a Journal of General Internal Medicine study found that patients who worry about their electronic health records being compromised in a breach incident are three times more likely to withhold information from their physicians than individuals who don’t share the same concern.
Considering the variety of devices, applications, and communication technologies used in RPM programs, it is more important than ever to answer patient questions about data privacy. Providers should address patients’ concerns by reinforcing technology safeguards, and clearly communicate to patients about how their medical data is accessed, stored and used.
In conclusion, Remote Patient Monitoring Program uses a patient-centric approach to improve the outcomes for patients with chronic conditions and provides patient self-efficacy along the care journey. Not only is it an innovative service to reduce hospital readmission rates and healthcare costs, but it’s also a newfound source of patient engagement and revenue for healthcare providers.
At Netrin Health, our coordinated and comprehensive Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) Program ensures that your patients receive the right support for self-management of their health care. We believe in patient-centered care planning that is built around the continuous encouragement and support of our care managers. To give the RPM Program the best chance of success, we provide user-friendly cellular RPM devices that require no additional wires or screens along with continuous tech support in place.
If you are looking for a value-based partner who will guide you and your patients at every step of their RPM journey, contact us today. Let’s become partners for quality healthcare.
Wicklund, E., April 18, 2018. Consumers Like Telehealth, But Still Prefer Face-to-Face Healthcare. MHealthIntelligence.
Childress D., October 16, 2019. Older Adults Express Concerns with Telehealth and Tech Devices. Leading Age.
Emmons K.M., Rollnick S., January 20, 2001. Motivational interviewing in health care settings. Opportunities and limitations. National Library of Medicine.
December 31, 2020. Setting SMART Goals for Success. Mayo Clinic Health System.
Lancaster University. March 12, 2018. Why Some Older People are Rejecting Digital Technologies. Science Daily.
Kearney, D., January 21, 2020. Overcoming Remote Care Management Fears. Physicians Practice.
Kurlander J., Saini S., October 1, 2019. Virtual Visits: Telehealth and Older Adults. National Poll on Healthy Aging.
Drees J., August 4, 2020. Patients with Medical Record Privacy Concerns 3 Times More Likely to Withhold Info from Physicians: Study. Becker’s Health.