MedCity Influencers, Health Tech

RPM is Changing How I Provide Care, And My Patients Love It

If you ask any physician about treating patients with chronic conditions, chances are they will tell you that our current healthcare system is failing these patients. I am no different. For patients with heart failure, type 2 diabetes, or hypertension, a quarterly office visit simply cannot provide the level of care needed to make the […]

If you ask any physician about treating patients with chronic conditions, chances are they will tell you that our current healthcare system is failing these patients. I am no different.

For patients with heart failure, type 2 diabetes, or hypertension, a quarterly office visit simply cannot provide the level of care needed to make the continuous and life-changing modifications we know are needed. After working in family practice for 16 years, it’s clear to me that continuous monitoring, medication adjustments, and behavioral change can prevent the majority of escalations and help to improve the health of patients over time. However, while we do our best to stress the importance of daily self-monitoring of weight, blood pressure, or blood glucose, these patients are often elderly, may live alone, are burdened with mobility or behavioral health issues, and are therefore extremely likely to miss or ignore signs of a worsening condition until it’s too late. Expecting our patients to monitor themselves and adjust their own medications for several months in between office visits is simply not realistic.

Fortunately, there is a better solution.

Technology is the bridge to better care

A new kind of remote patient monitoring which combines digital technologies to monitor and capture medical information with clinical intervention is helping my practice improve the health of our patients and reduce unnecessary hospital visits.

Traditional RPM platforms using cellular-enabled devices such as blood pressure cuffs, weight scales, and other technology to capture daily vital information fell short because they still required our practice to step in when alerts were triggered. Given our clinical resources are at capacity, we’ve long sought a solution that combines the data from these devices with additional clinical support to reduce burden for our physicians.

We found that solution in Cadence, a remote monitoring solution, which employs a team of clinicians who can intervene with patients or their caregivers if needed, based on my direction, and the process is fairly simple:

  • I receive a weekly account of my patients’ weight, blood pressure and blood sugars directly in the EMR.
  • Their clinical team works with me to review the readings of patients’ vitals, and also triage issues that may need my immediate attention.
  • I consult with them on adjusting medications or addressing behavioral issues to get my patients back to better health.
  • Similarly, they also consult with my patients by phone, at least once a month.

My patients see Cadence clinicians as extensions of my practice and feel like they are getting a second pair of eyes and great healthcare when they are not in my office. At the same time, our clinical staff feels as though they are receiving additional support.

As a result of utilizing an RPM provider, in a short amount of time we’ve been able to reduce the many phone calls and administrative burdens associated with providing care to these patients.

A better practice model

Traditional practice-based care is not designed to successfully manage patients with chronic conditions, but with this RPM model – an experienced clinical care team as an extension of my own, combined with technology to keep care timely and consistent – I believe we have found a better way.

With their easy-to-use cellular devices, my patients are able to check their daily vital signs. Combined with the additional clinical expertise provided to interpret those readings, I am confident my most complex and vulnerable patients are getting excellent clinical monitoring and advice between office visits.

Now, my office and I staff save time, and our patients receive high quality care and avoid potential costly and disruptive emergency room visits and hospitalizations. I became a doctor to heal patients and ease their suffering, and put simply, I believe this remote patient monitoring solution helps me do that better.

Editor’s Note: The author has no financial relationship with Cadence. 

Photo: Maria Symchych-Navrotska, Getty Images

Ailisa Smith, MD, is a board-certified family practice physician specializing in chronic condition care, dermatology, infant and child care, preventive health and well women care atFryeCare Generations Family Practice in Hickory, NC.

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