The Growth Channel

Three secrets to telehealth program success

by Madhavi Kasinadhuni

Organizations are piloting remote monitoring programs to prevent readmissions among high-risk patients with great success. Now, for many the focus is shifting from experiment to full-scale implementation. But what technology is best? Which conditions should you focus on? Which patients should we target?

A few organizations shared their secret to getting the biggest bang-for-their-buck with remote monitoring programs.

1. Invest in an all-in-one technology

Organizations typically launch programs that focus on the one or two conditions leading to the most readmissions. The problem with this approach is that even progressive organizations can fall into the trap of repeating resource-intensive investment processes when they decide to scale the program across more conditions.

When Banner Health decided to invest in telehealth, they looked for technology to help manage complex chronic disease in general. Their care management telehealth program, Banner iCare, uses a technology that adapts to various conditions—monitoring weight, blood pressure, glucose and pulse—giving the program flexibility to customize interventions based on a specific patient’s need.

2. Automatically enroll patients

Many high-risk patients may not be willing to opt-in to remote monitoring programs, seeing it as another burden on their already complex home care plan. By positioning the program as optional, organizations miss out on patients who could significantly benefit from monitoring.

Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group initially used an opt-in program, but struggled to attract patients. To enroll more patients, they transitioned to an opt-out program that integrates RPM program participation into post-discharge planning. To opt-out, the patient or his or her physician must explicitly decline to participate. Since the change, just a handful of patients and almost no physicians have asked to opt-out.

3. Collaborate with patients’ PCPs

For remote monitoring to work, patients need ongoing support from care providers. Based on patient data, providers need to contact patients, make adjustments to treatment plans, stop or change prescriptions, or even just offer some positive reinforcement. Physicians aren’t always the best candidate for this kind of support, but they still need to be kept in the loop.

Partners HealthCare uses care managers to provide a high-touch program for patients with conditions that require frequent communication and specialized resources such as COPD and CHF. But patients with less acute chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes are managed through their patient-centered medical home. By taking a divide-and-conquer approach, Partners ensures physicians are engaged in the remote monitoring program but are provided support to manage their most complex patients.

Learn more about remote monitoring

Whether you are launching a remote monitoring program from scratch or thinking about scaling from a pilot, get more details on the keys to success in our latest telehealth research—Scaling Remote Patient Monitoring Programs.