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5 Strategies for Driving RPM Patient Adherence and Engagement

Sarah Jacob
Oct 7, 2021 8:00:00 AM

We all know patient adherence and engagement in healthcare can be tough.  About half of all patients in America do not take their medication as intended, leading to an estimated 125,000 deaths per year.  Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) has the potential to allow patients to take control of their health, particularly those with chronic or acute conditions. The key to a successful RPM program is generating high levels of patient adherence and engagement.  

What does that mean in RPM programs? Patient adherence means patients are actively taking readings with their RPM devices on a regular basis.  Daily readings are generally recommended.  At least 16 days of readings per month are required for Medicare reimbursement

Patient engagement means patients are actively communicating with a member of your clinical staff to discuss their health and follow their treatment plan.  How much engagement is needed depends on an individual patient’s health circumstances, but Medicare requires 20 minutes of care team member engagement per month and one, live, two-way communication with the patient per month.

Here are five strategies that can help you drive adherence and engagement with your RPM patients.  

1. Equip Patients with Devices They’re Likely to Use

Many RPM patients are older and may consider themselves less tech-savvy. They don’t want to deal with what they perceive to be complicated apps and downloads. The more complicated a device seems, the less likely patients will use it.  

Fortunately, there are cellular RPM devices on the market that are incredibly easy to use. For example, with a cellular-enabled blood pressure monitor, a patient simply pushes one button to take the reading and it automatically transmits the data. With a cellular-enabled RPM scale, patients step on and off the scale just like they would with a regular scale – no additional steps needed.  

On the other hand, Bluetooth-enabled RPM devices require more steps for setup. These devices provide the patient with more information such as readings and trends. However, they can be more complex to use. Bluetooth devices are great for tech-savvy patients who want to take a more interactive role. 

2. Nail the Onboarding Process

The onboarding process is a critical time to educate your patient about the importance of their participation and set expectations on their engagement.  If they understand how easy it is to use the device and why daily readings are important, they are more likely to take regular readings.

We recommend several tactics for successfully implementing the 5E’s of patient onboarding – educate, engage, equip, encourage, and empower.

  • If possible, have your patient take their first reading while they are in the office. If they independently use the device themselves, it gives them an opportunity to ask questions and you can provide tips for proper use. They will leave knowing how to use the device on their own.
  • Use a laptop to show your patient how the data is automatically transmitted to your office. It helps for patients to actually see that someone will be looking at their readings, watching for meaningful trends, and contacting them if there are concerns.
  • Ask your patient to commit to taking their readings at a certain time each day and set up automated reminders in your RPM software if they forget.  The time of the reminder should be customized for each individual patient.
  • Explain any financial responsibility for co-pays so there are no surprise bills that lead to patient dissatisfaction with the program.
  • Make sure your patients know who to contact when they have questions.  Stickers with your office contact information on the devices can be very helpful. 

3. Communicate With Patients in the Way They Prefer 

A full-featured RPM platform will enable multiple forms of communications – phone, text, and video. But any form of communication is only effective if there is willingness to respond and engage. Ask your patients how they want to communicate with you. The answer could be that they prefer for you to speak with their caregiver, which is perfectly acceptable.

No matter what method of communication you use, effective communication should drive behavior change. Standard screening questions during routine outreach can help drive preventative care. For example, “Your blood pressure is elevated, did you eat salty foods today?”

4. Leverage Technology to Improve Engagement

Your RPM software should make it easy for your staff to engage with patients. Key features and functionality to look for include:

  • Automated reminders if patients do not take their readings
  • Instant notifications for readings outside of designated thresholds for each patient
  • Ability to easily sort and filter patients that are falling below the recommended number of readings and/or number of minutes of engagement
  • One-click outreach – easily communicate with patients by text, voice, or video directly from the software

5. Understand Appropriate Staffing Levels to Drive RPM Engagement 

RPM is not a ‘set it and forget it’ program. Your RPM patients need a Care Team Member from your practice to interact with on a regular basis. This means you must be willing to dedicate sufficient clinical staff time to monitoring RPM patients.  Adding RPM responsibilities to your already stretched-thin staff is likely going to lead to insufficient engagement.

Engagement time will vary based on patient need. If your goal is to meet the 20-minute Medicare requirement for reimbursement, a general rule of thumb is one full-time dedicated clinical staff member can monitor approximately 150 – 250 patients. Smaller RPM programs can dedicate a partial FTE, but it’s critical that you allocate the right number of hours for RPM.

If you want to launch a successful RPM program but don’t have sufficient staff available for the additional workload, there are two options. The cost of a new hire can be easily justified with the additional RPM reimbursement. Alternatively, a simpler solution for many practices is to outsource monitoring to your RPM vendor. A strong RPM vendor will provide RNs that follow your clinical protocols and act as an extension of your own staff.

Learn More About How Optimize Health can Help Drive Patient Engagement

For more strategies on how to increase patient readings with RPM and drive engagement, watch our Patient Adherence and Engagement Webinar or schedule a free consultation with an Optimize Health RPM expert. 

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