So the challenge of remote patient monitoring (RPM) is clearly not the technologies. It’s not the patients either; after all, smart phones, mobile devices, and apps have certainly penetrated our lives beyond imagination in the past decade. I always say, “follow the money,” and in this case, it is a short trip.
There is no financial incentive to monitor, manage, or coordinate care of chronically ill, and the result is increased unnecessary hospital readmissions. Today’s data surrounding RPM is limited, and what does exist perpetuates the notions that RPM improves aren’t profound enough to quickly and efficiently move the needle of the payers—which is the only funding resource for RPM. In a true catch-22, RPM can’t improve without more funding, and payers won’t fund without data showing improvement, and so the cycle continues.
The other challenge, which is certainly the preferred situation, is that providers don’t have processes in place to do something with the data in a meaningful way. The fact that a patient with congestive heart failure is reporting their weight each day is insignificant; however, how wonderful it would be for a nurse to be immediately notified of a significant weight gain, and then be able to quickly respond with medication adjustments, preventing a trip to the ED and subsequent hospitalization?
We are clearly at the beginning of the use of remote monitoring from informatics and analytics, provider use, and payer reimbursement perspectives. Unfortunately, RPM use does not align with the public’s progressive move toward mhealth apps. How do we move the needle with payers and providers to embrace consumer mhealth and the concept of the quantified self? These are the topics and questions that will need to be addressed before RPM is fully adopted and utilized to its full potential.