I must admit that I did not have a clue how meaningful and fulfilling it would be to work as a remote patient management (RPM) clinician. My earlier career as a critical care nurse practitioner at Vanderbilt University Medical Center was a fast-paced and exciting job, but it left me with little time for a satisfying work-life balance. I yearned to do something different.
When an opportunity was presented to me to work as an RPM clinician for a large payer, though, I was unsure about this opportunity. After all, I'd only worked in hospitals at that point. Eventually, though, two thoughts continued to eat away at me, prompting me to eventually take the position, which involved caring for patients who had suffered from congestive heart failure (CHF),
The first thought: I was raised in rural Northwest Tennessee, where medical care and facilities are minimal. My parents still reside in this area, and they must travel more than an hour to reach their medical providers. I understand that RPM would be beneficial to people like my parents, who were so very limited in their access to medical care and facilities.
The second thought: Multiple times a week, I had to admit a CHF patient. These were costly and time-consuming admissions, in which I'd always pondered that there had to be a better way. It was the same case over and over again — patients would come in short of breath, having not monitored their diet or checked their weight and blood pressure daily, and were generally just not knowledgeable about their disease. After a couple of days of diuresis, med changes, and education, they were sent on their way home.
I just knew there had to be a better way to treat these patients, a way that was more effective and less costly. I knew I wanted to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. Thus, I accepted the position as an RPM clinician.
The Rewards of Working as an RPM Clinician
While working in the hospital, my interaction with patients had always been very time-limited, and typically brief in nature. I found that by working as an RPM nurse, I was able to develop more meaningful relationships with my patients, who were usually in my care for a minimum of six months.
The RPM platform we used allowed me to get the clinical data I needed in a timely fashion and enabled me to navigate my patients' needs each day. The platform's video conferencing tool allowed me to further build rapport with my patients, and allowed us to engage in face-to-face visits when necessary.
And about those virtual visits — it was so fulfilling to watch patients become empowered to care for themselves and learn self-management of their chronic disease. As a clinician, watching their confidence build as they worked their way through the program was both fulfilling and rewarding.
Patients do not want to go to the hospital — they want to stay in their homes. And RPM gives them the opportunity to remain at home while learning to manage their chronic disease. I love the fact that patients are embracing this new technology and know that this is just the beginning for RPM.
When it comes to telehealth and remote care, I think it's safe to say that change is good. I consider myself fortunate to be a part of this industry, and I'm excited to see what happens next!
About Lesley Mathis, RN, MSSW, MSN, ACNP-BC
Clinical Manager, Care Innovations
Lesley is a passionate board-certified acute care nurse practitioner who has experience in traditional medicine, as a customer consuming RPM technologies, and now helping to deliver RPM solutions to disparate healthcare systems. Lesley was the NP for the Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and at Cigna, where she helped to deliver a 20% reduction in re-admissions. She lives with her family in Nashville.