Population Health Insights

Financial Times: Benefits of RPM “Could Save the US Billions”

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More and more experts are pointing out the benefits of RPM and calling for its wider implementation, including a recent Financial Times article that says it could save the U.S. “billions each year”

The Financial Times, a long-established, highly respected international business news source operating out of London, has published an analysis of the benefits of RPM (remote patient management) that concludes, if implemented on a widespread basis, it could save the United States billions of dollars each year.

“Multiple studies have shown that RPM reduces costs and improves health outcomes,” writes the article’s author, Michael Hodin, who looks at the example of the Veterans Health Administration, which recently found the benefits of RPM “can reduce hospitalizations by as much as 40 percent for some diseases, and realize annual savings of $6,500 per patient.

“Overall, it’s estimated that widespread adoption of remote patient monitoring could save the U.S. as much as $6 billion annually,” Hodin adds.

Adding up the Benefits of RPM …

Citing the benefits of RPM as particularly helpful in dealing with age-related healthcare conditions, Hodin notes the average U.S. life expectancy is soon predicted to exceed the age 80, drawing on a study published in UK medical journal The Lancet.

Noting that aging populations coincide with a rise in “chronic conditions like COPD, heart disease, diabetes and dementia,” — which “account for nearly 90 percent of U.S. healthcare costs” — Hodin writes “the 20th century approach to health spending can no longer hold.”

“One of the most promising solutions to improve care, reduce costs and create efficiencies is found in the technology innovation of remote patient monitoring,” Hodin writes. “RPM helps patients, physicians and caregivers monitor and manage ongoing care, especially in a patient’s home.”

Hodin breaks down just how the benefits of RPM combine to “enable better and more consistent care,” including its abilities to:

  • Maximize communications between patients and caregivers via videoconferencing technology
  • Employ smartphone- and tablet-based education tools to help patients become better engaged with their own health
  • Use a variety of other devices “to prompt and track diet, exercise and medication adherence

VIDEO: Tracking Medication Adherence with RPM

The Financial Times isn’t the only voice extolling these particular benefits of RPM. Chip Kahn, President and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, recently wrote in Modern Healthcare that hospitals “in both rural and urban settings are investing in telehealth … to address inequities in access to care, containment of healthcare cost growth and enhancement of quality.”

“Locally and nationally a shortage of mental health professionals makes it difficult for patients to get time with a practitioner,” Christen Giblin writes in Ohio’s Sentinel-Tribune. “This is especially true in rural or underserved areas. But video technology allows a clinician to treat clients from miles away, giving them greater access.”

“Remote patient monitoring allows physicians to check in with someone once they are released from the hospital, potentially avoiding preventable readmissions and secondary conditions,” Kahn adds. “New and inventive ways of using our ubiquitous mobile devices are harnessing the power of apps or even text messages to promote healthy behaviors.

… and the Barriers to Widespread Implementation

Yet, in the face of all of RPM’s benefits, considerable obstacles remain in the way of its widespread implementation within the American healthcare industry.

Hodin notes that Medicare “currently reimburses for RPM only in a few narrow cases, such as when a patient lives in a remote area,” thereby:

  • Limiting “utilization and savings”
  • Discouraging “ongoing product innovation”
  • Preventing “millions of patients from improving their quality of life”

Kahn agrees, writing that “patients are not able to take advantage of the full range of these technological advances because the federal government hasn't kept pace.”

Other barriers exist, as well: As Healthcare DIVE recently noted, an FCC-approved plan to expand subsidies for broadband Internet that would increase access to telehealth and RPM among low-income individuals and families is being “reconsidered” under the new administration.

The laws governing telehealth availability need to be less restrictive,” Kahn writes. “For example, in Medicare, originating site restrictions must be updated and, to keep pace with technological advances, legislators need to adopt technology-neutral telehealth policies.”

Hodin writes that “RPM, like so many other innovations in health, can be understood not as a cost to be avoided, but a valued investment that saves all of us billions through avoidance of more expensive forms of acute hospital and direct physician care.”

Implementing RPM on a larger scale means “hospital admissions and readmissions as well as ER visits will be reduced,” Hodin adds. “We will substantially improve management of chronic conditions and cut overall costs even as we improve quality of lives.”

Interested in learning more about how your healthcare facility or organization can leverage the benefits of RPM services and technology? We invite you to contact a Care Innovations representative for more information.