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Why Providers Switch RPM Vendors (and How to Know When It’s Time for You to Do the Same)

Jerry Barsz
Aug 25, 2021 6:47:55 AM

When CMS first began reimbursing for ambulatory Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) in 2019, the landscape of RPM vendors looked far different than what it does today. Fast-forward to 2021, and we’re now starting to talk to a number of early adopter healthcare providers outside of our client base who, though still fully bought into the value of RPM, find themselves reevaluating their RPM vendors for the first time.

In the broader sense, this trend is a positive sign of a maturing market; healthcare providers who have tried RPM know that it’s helping their patients and are now expecting more out of the technology that drives it.

But if you’re a provider whose needs aren’t currently being met by your RPM vendor, this positive market trend may feel more like a personal nightmare.

To help you evaluate whether or not it's time for you to reevaluate your RPM solution, we’ve identified the three most common motivators that we’ve seen lead healthcare providers to choose a new RPM vendor and some questions you can utilize to determine whether or not your current solution is hitting the mark for your staff, your patients, and your bottom line.

Ease of Use and Workflow Alignment

The RPM solution you’re using should be intuitive, easy to learn, and easy to use with minimal instruction. Any difficulties for your staff can be barriers for your patients. Conversely, staff who are comfortable and confident using your RPM software will help ensure your practice and your patients are able to achieve the objectives to which you initially set out.

Even if you’re outsourcing monitoring services to your vendor, we recommend making sure they’ve shown you what the technology looks like on their end. Ultimately, these are your patients, and knowing that the technology used to monitor their health is best-in-class, secure, and audit-ready will help to mitigate any unexpected issues that could arise in the future.

When evaluating your RPM vendor, think through all of the workflows impacted by monitoring: patient identification, consent, enrollment, monitoring, billing, support, etc. Your partner should be able to customize a solution that best helps you address or fill any staffing gaps that might exist on your own RPM team.

And if your staff are already short on time and you’re concerned this may be an issue, consider partnering with an RPM provider who offers outsourced clinical monitoring services. A competent RPM partner will employ a team of clinical professionals (preferably RNs) who are well-versed in remote patient engagement, can work independently, present solutions, and maximize the efficiency of physician involvement.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Evaluating Your RPM Vendor

  1. How intuitive is the software we’re using? Does it align with our existing workflows or do we have to significantly modify what we’re doing to accommodate?
  2. How much time is our team having to dedicate to our program outside of monitoring?
  3. How effective are the trainings our vendor has conducted for us so far? Do they have differentiated trainings for the various stakeholders involved in our program (physicians, RNs, MAs, billing, leadership, etc.)? 
  4. How easy is it for us to scale our program as our care team or patient population grows?
  5. Does our RPM vendor have outsourced monitoring services we can utilize when our staff resources are constrained?

Patient Adherence

Without question, low patient adherence is the number one reason why RPM programs are unsuccessful. The foundation of a successful RPM program is patient retention. Patients will opt out if it is not simple.

Monitoring devices play a big factor here: if your patients view the equipment as cumbersome, not only will there be a higher risk of non-compliance, they may be less likely to opt into the program in the first place. So, it’s important to provide technology that allows for the best experience for your specific patient population.

Many RPM providers only offer devices that utilize Bluetooth-enabled transmission, which means that patients must have an app (usually a smartphone app) and an internet connection in order to take readings. Cellular devices, on the other hand, allow for patients to transmit data at the push of a button, without the need for an internet connection. As you can imagine, for patients with lower tech literacy or limited internet access, this makes it much easier for them to take readings.

It’s not to say Bluetooth monitoring devices are without their strengths—mobile apps can be used to give patients better insights into their personal health data and can gamify many of the aspects of the monitoring process. But working with an RPM partner able to offer both methods of transmission ensures you’re able to support your patients in the manner most helpful for them.

Beyond the monitoring devices, patient onboarding, technical support, and the methods of provider-patient communication all factor into patient satisfaction and adherence. Your RPM vendor should be proactively supporting you and your patients at every step of their journey; if they’re not, it may be time to reevaluate.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Evaluating Your RPM Vendor

  1. How often are our patients taking their recommended number of readings within a month?
  2. Are we hitting the patient retention targets we’ve set (and were we even asked to set them in the first place)?
  3. Does our RPM vendor offer both cellular and Bluetooth devices?
  4. How often are our patients reporting issues with their devices or connected technology?
  5. Does our RPM vendor offer education and resources to support the patient onboarding process?
  6. Overall, are our patients satisfied with their remote care programs? Has our RPM program strengthened their relationship with their providers or weakened it?

Price vs. Value

When shopping for any clinical technology vendor, it’s always tempting to be swayed by the lower price point. However, focusing too narrowly on price can backfire down the road, especially if the lower-cost option doesn't meet your needs, or comes with too many unexpected speedbumps. Some of those include:

  • Administrative Burden: whether the software is difficult to use or your RPM vendor just did a poor job of expectation setting upfront, if your team doesn’t have the time to administer your remote care program, you’re not going to be able to offer one. This includes not only time spent monitoring, but also time spent coordinating the broader program.
  • Too Many Manual Features That Could Be Automated: many key components within the broader RPM workflow can be automated; automated time tracking, patient reminders, and alerts for out-of-range measurements can save your staff precious minutes that add up.
  • Poor Customer Service: Your RPM partner should provide ongoing training, from onboarding onward. If you don’t have the support you need, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to figure it all out on your own. In addition to being available to answer your questions or help you troubleshoot, a high-touch client success team that meets with you regularly will help you to optimize every part of your remote monitoring operation to achieve (and hopefully exceed) your clinical and financial goals.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Evaluating Your RPM Vendor

  1. Are we spending enough time on our RPM program? Too little? Too much?
  2. Is our team spending time on tasks that could be automated?
  3. How engaged was our vendor during the onboarding process?
  4. How often is our vendor reaching out to check on our progress? When they do reach out, are they offering useful insights? Do they provide data to show how we’re doing?
  5. How responsive is our RPM vendor? Do they get back to me promptly with answers to our questions?
  6. How does our RPM vendor handle technical support and troubleshooting?

Know When It’s Time to Switch

Remote Patient Monitoring can seem complex, but it doesn’t have to be. It's important to work with a partner that has a deep understanding of all aspects of remote monitoring: outcomes, workflow, adherence, reimbursement, regulatory compliance, and everything in between. Moreover, it’s important to work with a partner that makes monitoring easy, safe, and effective.

If you find yourself questioning whether or not your current RPM vendor is falling short, reach out to us—we've designed a program that specifically helps providers level up their RPM partner without disrupting their active patient population, and we'd be happy to help you determine if it's right for you.

 

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