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Providers are investing in remote patient monitoring solutions to track and manage unstable, high-risk patients, which will help with value-based care implementation. Healthcare provider organizations are looking to invest in remote patient monitoring (RPM) solutions to transition to value-based care by supporting high-risk chronically ill patients whose conditions are considered unstable and at risk for hospital admission, according to a new Spyglass Consulting Group study. Specifically, 88% of providers surveyed have invested or are evaluating investments in RPM technologies, the study of 100 clinical informatics and health IT leaders found. 

More than 133 million Americans representing 45% of the U.S. population have at least one chronic disease, and these chronic diseases kill more than 1.7 million Americans every year. RPM solutions have been proven to be clinically effective as an early symptom management tool, and allow risk-bearing organizations to remotely monitor patients with chronic conditions to help control healthcare costs, improve care quality, and increase access to care for patients in underserved areas, the study stated.  

In order to gain a better understanding of RPM from the perspective of healthcare providers, a consulting group surveyed clinical informatics and health IT leaders who are affiliated with delivery networks, community hospitals, ambulatory environments, home health agencies, and government associations. The target audience included software and hardware vendors, healthcare administrators and IT executives, clinicians who are involved in informatics and clinical system evaluation selection, investment bankers, and private equity investors. The study uncovered the market requirements for RPM solutions through interview discussions about the impact and benefits of deploying RPM for supporting population health, existing workflow inefficiencies, and managing chronically ill patients, as well as the challenges of integrating RPM with existing clinical processes.  

Cost avoidance was the primary investment driver for RPM solutions which has been beneficial to organizations by reducing hospital re-admissions, emergency department visits, and overall healthcare utilization, the study stated. With the implementation of the ACA, providers are consolidating into larger delivery networks and attempting to transition toward various at-risk payment and care delivery models. For example, many are looking to deploy foundational processes, infrastructure, and tools required to support population health management programs. 

RPM technologies could help manage value-based risk associated with large patient populations with chronic conditions. However, the majority of providers surveyed are struggling to establish an ROI that justifies large-scale investments to grow existing chronic care management programs and RPM technologies, according to the study. 

With the inability to expand their care management programs due to limited budgets and resources, providers are not able to integrate RPM tools with clinical information systems. They lack the equipment to take advantage of CMS’ new CPT codes that provide reimbursement for RPM equipment and monitoring services.  Provider organizations have been looking to expand their chronic care management programs to evaluate RPM technologies that help manage patients. For example, Fitbit and other activity trackers can be used in some RPM programs to identify trends that require clinical intervention.  

Wearable activity trackers are proven to be a more reliable measure of physical activity and assessing a five-year risk than traditional methods, according to a study by Johns Hopkins Medicine.  

Adult participants between 50 and 85 years old wore an accelerator device at the hip for seven consecutive days to gather information on their physical activity. Individual data came from responses to demographic, socioeconomic, and health-related survey questions, along with medical records and clinical laboratory test results. Men made up 51% of the study, and 65% of them died within five years of the study’s follow up efforts.  

The data from the Fitbit allowed researchers to compare the data of those who died and those who survived. Researchers were able to correctly rank the mortality risk using accelerometers 30% more accurately than using information about smoking status, and 40% better than using information about whether a person suffered a stroke or had cancer.  

In addition, a Fitbit study done in May of 2018 by researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA allowed them to easily access activity data from the 200 patients with ischemic heart disease over 90 days. They were able to easily spot dangerous trends and intervene when needed.  

“The ability of the device to simultaneously record multiple variables such as heart rate and accelerometer data allowed us to more accurately determine the patient’s state, whether he/she is active, sedentary, asleep, or not currently using the device,” the researchers reported.ii