Keeping chronic disease patients out of the emergency department (ED) is challenging for physicians. Without constant monitoring of these conditions and adherence to treatment plans and medication, your patients will make these unplanned visits. Many clinicians are turning to remote patient monitoring systems as the entire healthcare system seeks ways to limit these.
Modern remote patient monitoring systems get real-time data updates once a patient takes a vital reading. Continuous access to vital data from connected devices gives you greater visibility into whether your patient is staying on track with their health goals. Additionally, platforms, such as Optimize Health, alert care teams when readings are outside thresholds, indicating the need for intervention. If you can connect with your patient immediately and advise of actions to take to mitigate the issue, the need to seek emergency care reduces dramatically.
In this post, we’ll review the ED problem and how you can successfully implement a remote patient monitoring system to decrease these occurrences.
The $32 billion emergency department problem
Research on avoidable ED visits revealed that they cost the U.S. healthcare system $32 billion annually. In addition to these monetary strains felt by Medicare and Medicaid, patient outcomes in these care settings don’t always correlate to being positive. These are fast-paced environments with patients “competing” for care. Those treating them also don’t have insights into their conditions and medical history like you do.
ED visits are often the result of:
- Chronic patients not seeing their physicians regularly or as advised
- Non-adherence to care plans or medication
- Readmissions after an initial hospital stay where people did not show up for follow-ups
- Patients lack a way to reach doctors when they notice symptoms or abnormal readings
Those with chronic conditions make up a large number of ED visits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 22.9% of those seeking emergency care had one chronic condition, 15.3% had two, and 23.3% had three or more. A National Health Statistics Reports project also examined the relationship between chronic disease and ED utilization. Of the over 100 million instances reviewed, 59.5% of adults going to the ED had at least one chronic illness. This was even higher in senior populations.
Some of the most common conditions include hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. These, among others,are great cases for monitoring through a remote patient monitoring system. What does the research say about remote patient monitoring and ED visit reduction?
Let’s look at some research and findings on the correlation between RPM programs and reducing ED events.
Some industry findings include:
- 25% of healthcare organizations said remote patient monitoring reduces ED instances and readmissions.
- A review of 91 studies on RPM and its impact on acute care concluded that 49% reported decreases in ED visits, and those involving COPD and cardiovascular disease patients were the most effective.
- A study of patients with COPD showed a potential 35-68% reduction in ED visits and hospitalizations.
In the case of Kentucky Cardiology, the remote patient monitoring system helped them keep patients out of the ED and be able to intervene more quickly to make medication adjustments. Another case study featuring Kidney Disease Consultants had shown similar results, as they experienced a 30% decrease in hospitalizations.
How can a remote patient monitoring system minimize people seeking ED care?
There are two main ways that remote patient monitoring can impact ED visits. The first is long-term in scope. RPM devices collect daily vital data related to a patient’s chronic condition.
As a result, you have much greater insight into how they are managing the condition and if current treatments are working. You’ll be able to make more fine-tuned adjustments in care decisions and identify patterns to dissect and discuss with patients, proactively.
The second way is immediately being able to intervene as soon as there is an escalation. Each patient will have their own thresholds and clinical monitoring team. When critical readings occur, clinical care teams will review those and contact patients to gather additional information. They would then escalate those that need your attention. You can then deliver instructions to the patient, including instructing them to take medication, titrate dosage or come to your office.
Much of the time, without this type of connectedness, patients become overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. They may feel their only resort is to head to the ED. With a remote patient monitoring system, you get context, and patients receive quick and clear advice to take action. With such a solution in place, could ED visits decline? Is being proactive enough to avert the costs and adverse outcomes of avoidable ED visits?
Not quite. You’re only halfway there if you lack accurate and continuous data.
Setting up a remote patient monitoring program to reduce ED visits
The foundation to achieving this is how you implement an RPM program. First, you need to define how these digital engagements will work to provide proactive care. Patients require education and onboarding to follow through. The experience needs to be easy and fast for patients to take a reading so they can adhere to it daily. The devices must be secure and reliable in transmitting data into a platform. Patients also need to know they have a communication channel to ask about readings should they become concerned.
Developing a remote patient monitoring initiative requires many considerations before it can be an effective tool for reducing ED visits. Thus, you want to find an RPM company that ensures all these things by:
- Helping you enroll and educate patients
- Supplying high-quality, easy-to-use, secure and reliable RPM devices
- Providing an RPM system that tracks progress, allows custom threshold settings, and has two-way communication
- Supporting your staff with licensed nurses to monitor readings, engage with patients, and escalate when necessary
With these features and capabilities, you launch a program that has the potential to reduce avoidable ED care without straining your staff.
Exploring a remote patient monitoring system
Minimizing ED occurrences is a substantial benefit of a remote patient monitoring system, but there are many more. It’s the gateway to the future of remote care and being able to extend care outside the four walls. Get the facts about what RPM can do for you and your patients by downloading our guide, What is RPM?
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