Healthcare providers are, understandably, wary of new technologies since patients’ lives are – literally – in their hands. However, the benefits of remote patient monitoring outweigh the risks of early adoption. Bill Gates once stated, “There is an opportunity to speed up history at an inflection point.” He was referring to his creation of Microsoft, but those words have resonated with me during my healthcare career. Healthcare has many inflection points that are driven by new technology, public health policy, reimbursement, and expansion of services.

In late 2019, many healthcare providers suffered significant losses due to severe drops in volume caused by the proliferation of the Covid-19 virus and the resultant quarantines. These losses resulted in many hospital and healthcare providers closing operations permanently. Healthcare providers that had yet to deploy telehealth assets experienced the most severe losses. This was one of the most significant healthcare inflection points in recent history.

Telehealth inflection point

As governmental and commercial payers started to reimburse for telehealth visits, a new healthcare delivery model was created. Private equity firms and venture capitalists took advantage of this significant inflection point and created a multi-billion-dollar industry which has disrupted our local healthcare communities. Health insurance companies took advantage of this lower-cost alternative and contracted with Teladoc and other national companies to provide services directly to their customers. The reluctance of healthcare providers to embrace digital healthcare though early adoption allowed national telehealth providers to grab massive amounts of market share with a level permanency. The Covid-19 pandemic inflection point bolstered the public’s acceptance of digital healthcare delivery, broadening the digital healthcare market. History was sped up and digital healthcare became a permanent part of our delivery system.

Many health systems lost a significant long-term opportunity to laboratory start-ups that were willing to meet the massive amount of new demand. These laboratories were formed by entrepreneurs that saw the need for and capitalized on expanded laboratory services. Many of these entrepreneurs created generational wealth by taking advantage of the inflection point and sped up their own history.

Remote Patient Monitoring and Chronic Care Management

Between July 2003 and December 2007, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) introduced a national home telehealth program, Care Coordination/Home Telehealth (CCHT). Its purpose was to coordinate the care of veteran patients with chronic conditions and avoid their unnecessary admission to long-term institutional care. The table below shows the high-level results the program achieved by chronic condition.

source: Care Coordination/Home Telehealth: the systematic implementation of health informatics, home telehealth, and disease management to support the care of veteran patients with chronic conditions

The program achieved remarkable results and caught the attention of healthcare policy makers.  CMS began reimbursing for Chronic Care Management (CCM) and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) in 2015 and 2019, respectively.  CMS further expanded coverage in 2022 to include Remote Therapeutic Monitoring (RTM).  All these programs are delivered through telehealth assets to provide more care in the home. In addition to the telehealth visits, RPM and RTM provide FDA-approved devices for continuous and periodic monitoring of vital signs. These programs are designed to identify through health informatics changes in the patient’s well-being for earlier intervention. The trend in adding more access to care management at home is likely to increase in the future, based upon the ability to improve care quality and patient access, and lower the total cost of care.

Benefits of remote patient care

Healthcare systems, hospitals, and physicians are challenged today by staffing shortages, capacity issues, and declining reimbursement. The table below shows benefits of RPM to healthcare providers.

The case for early adoption

The current market penetration of RPM is less than one percent and is projected to be an 85-billion-dollar industry by 2026. This projected industry growth has caught the attention of healthcare stakeholders, pouring investment into healthcare-at-home initiatives. Pharmacy chains and payers are likely to quickly adopt these innovative programs and deliver through their current distribution channels.

Healthcare providers should strongly consider early adoption of an RPM solution and close this service gap sooner than later. If we have learned anything about the rise of Teladoc and the threat of the major pharmacy chains, we know the barbarians could already be at the gate.

Community Wellness

Community Wellness is a turnkey RPM platform that requires no capital investment, and supplies the equipment, care management staff, and the technology platform to provide a simple path to early adoption.