With its potential to positively transform the care continuum, remote patient management (RPM) is an increasingly important piece of any healthcare organization’s game plan. However, as with any tool, the extent to which RPM can provide success depends on the skill and expertise with which it’s utilized.
It’s essential, then, to ensure that RPM programs are not only designed well but also implemented correctly. Fortunately, as RPM programs become more widespread, and more implementations take place each year, some clear indicators have emerged to accomplish just that.
In a video from the Care Innovations® RPM Academy, our telehealth experts leverage their decades of collective experience to talk about some of the most common mistakes they’ve seen in the implementation of RPM programs — and how to avoid them.
Our experts define three of the biggest RPM implementation mistakes as:
- Lack of resourcing
- Enrolling the wrong patients
- Inadequate patient training
How to Avoid the 3 Most Common Mistakes in RPM Implementation
Ultimately, these three RPM implementation mistakes can be avoided be careful planning. In the video, Care Innovations Chief Information Officer Himanshu Shah, makes the analogy that the RPM implementation process is like a puzzle, requiring the careful placement of each piece.
“You need to have clinicians, technology, and the market come together,” he explains. “If one of the pieces is not in the puzzle, it will fall apart."
Care Innovations CFO Bryan Pruden takes this line of thinking one step further, describing the importance of resourcing as the most effective way to ensure alignment among all stakeholders. To this end, he describes lack of resourcing as “the number one risk facing a remote patient monitoring implementation.”
“You want to make sure that you fully resource the program,” he says, “and that they have a good plan, and everyone is aligned.”
This point has been emphasized by other telehealth experts, as well. Writing at HealthTech, Sarah Sossong, senior director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for TeleHealth, stresses the importance of resourcing when planning and implementing a new RPM program.
“In today’s constrained environment, it is tempting to spread resources in a broad and shallow manner, rather than deeply and narrowly,” she writes. “Health systems variably use telehealth to increase access, attract new patients, improve patient outcomes and reduce the total cost of care. However, if there are too many priorities, the boots on the ground will be challenged to implement and demonstrate impact and value.”
Implicit in this statement is the notion that optimal resourcing means achieving alignment not just among leaders, administrators and technicians — as important as they are — but also among the doctors, clinicians, nurses and caregivers who work within the program on a day-to-day basis.
The Importance of Patients within the RPM Implementation Process
The second and third RPM implementation mistakes focus on the other direct participants in the care process — the patients. Correcting these mistakes means taking careful steps to match the right patient to the right program, and then making sure they fully understand how it works.
Describing “not having the right patients in the program” as among “the most common mistakes I've seen,” Care Innovations Director of Customer Support and Operations Cleon Wellington explains that a big part of avoiding this mistake is carefully arranging “inclusion and exclusion criteria” for patient enrollment.
After identifying those patients, the priority shifts to properly introducing them to the program — i.e., ensuring they fully understand what to expect from the RPM program, and how to find success within it.
“One of the other critical things is making sure that you take enough time with the patients to walk them through using the kit the first time,” he continues. “That will make them comfortable with it, and that will prevent a lot of the future mistakes.”
This focus on the patient involves not only training during the initial implementation process, but also follow-through once the program is up and running — i.e., providing a point of contact for any patient questions that may come up.
“In terms of incorrect use or frustration with the system in the future,” says Cleon, “there are very simple instructions you can put in the kit that they can follow. But having a person on the phone, very gently walking them through the system, is extremely successful.”
In her HealthTech article, Sossong agrees on the importance of patient training. “Even one poor telehealth experience for a patient or provider is one too many,” she writes. “When technical challenges arise, it is essential to provide timely support and customer repair for an organization to ensure continued patient acceptance.”
She also gives some pointers on how to accomplish this. “In the early stages of implementation, consider short-term centralization of activities that are not routine,” she explains, “such as in-person training, around-the-clock virtual or in-person technical support for providers and community hospital clients, or test calls to ensure patients are ready for an upcoming visit with their provider.”
The key takeaways, then, to ensure successful RPM program implementation include ensuring that:
- Every clinician involved is part of the circle of communications.
- Patients know what to expect from a program before it begins.
- A live operator is available to answer any real-time questions patients may have, especially during implementation.
We invite you to learn more about what it takes to launch a successful RPM program: Contact us here to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Care Innovations telehealth specialist.