As the population continues to age, home health care has become an indispensable tool for administering care to patients that’s more convenient and cost-effective.  But the pressure to find better, more efficient ways of delivering that care is never ending, as reimbursement rates decline and caseloads climb. For everyone in the organization, it’s enough just to get through the day. One emerging technology holding great promise for home health and hospice care is remote patient monitoring (RPM) systems, which enable operators to keep tabs on many patients at once. RPM has the potential to change the paradigm in home health and hospice care. Traditionally, doctors and nurses are in reactive mode, responding to problems from chronically ill patients as they arise. Using RPM, care teams can become proactive by monitoring vital signs and engaging with patients more often in various formats, such as video, chat, and other forms of patient education. Tailored to the needs of your patient population and workforce, RPM can help target resources to where they are needed most, improve the care of patients, and even take pressure off an overworked staff. Here are a few ways to pair technology and home care that will produce results.

Target Care Where It’s Needed

RPM systems stream vital signs and related clinical data to care teams, providing a real-time picture of patient conditions. The data gives providers a robust set of tools to identify those patients with the most pressing needs. RPM monitoring can be coupled with programmed thresholds, so when someone’s reading reaches actionable levels, it will sound an alert. This means you are providing constant vigilance in comparison to the legacy approach, where you can only capture vitals at appointments or home care visits. With detailed information on those patients with the greatest need, providers can then dispatch aides to where they can do the most good, rather than being spread thin by trying to visit every patient every day or having to wait to see a patient to understand their current status. A recent study involving patients in a New York nursing home captured resting heart rate data. The use of the RPM system showed that it was possible to use that data to predict an impending medical crisis at least a week in advance. This combination of technology and home care could help address staffing shortages tied to the surge of interest in home health care due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to predict and target resources helps reduce levels of stress for overworked employees. It also frees up health providers and other resources to focus on the most critical patients and optimize their time spent on care. Even patients with stable conditions can feel confident that they are under the watchful eye of their providers. RPM systems enable care teams to see what’s going on in a home and conduct virtual check-ins that provide reassurance and problem-solving services. In a time when home health and hospice agencies are stressed for funding, this enables agencies to do more with the same resources by saving the most intensive interventions for those with the more pressing problems. As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stated when it announced revamped reimbursement guidelines to cover RPM: it enables physicians to put “value over volume.”

Reduce Unnecessary Doctor or Hospital Visits

One of the costliest aspects of the healthcare system stems from hospital readmissions, when patients return to a healthcare institution within thirty days of discharge. Readmissions can happen for many reasons, such as failure to adhere to medication schedules or inability to obtain proper follow-up care. RPM systems can help overcome those obstacles by providing more accessible lines of communication between patients and providers. Sometimes, a quick check-in call is all that’s needed to remind a chronically ill patient to take their meds or for a provider to spot telltale signs of deterioration. In addition to readmissions, RPM can help streamline home health or hospice care for patients in remote or rural areas. It’s often time consuming and costly to send doctors and health aides to such locations. Consequently, people who live in these areas may not be getting access to the proper care. Case studies show that the capabilities of RPM can save money and improve care. For example, remote monitoring enabled seventeen critical care patients to be treated in place in Alaska rather than be transported at the cost of $20,000 a person. The availability of RPM systems with home health or hospice agencies may also limit hospital stays. Patients can come home sooner because they will be remotely monitored.

Increase Patient Engagement

Effectively pairing technology and home health care can lead to improved outcomes because it provides a platform for greater patient engagement. RPM systems like those available from Dignio have modules that can help motivate patients to take better care of themselves. One way that this happens is just through the prominence of data. When patients see their treatments having an impact, they get motivated to keep the progress going. It encourages them to develop or maintain good habits. Another role for technology in healthcare involves using RPM systems to deliver actionable information that patients can use to work toward getting better. These might be exercise videos or other, less-intensive patient follow-ups. RPM enables providers to offer constant encouragement and reinforcement that builds on their patients’ successes.

Bring Technology to Home Health Care with Dignio

Dignio provides an RPM solution that puts technology and home care together in a way that promotes valuable efficiencies for staff and patients alike. The suite of applications provides tools that enable seamless care and communication involving providers, patients, and caregivers. RPM has applications in various specialties, including home health care. The goal is to enable providers to stay close to their patients while giving the patients the power to take control of their own health. Ultimately, the Dignio team believes that healthcare should be less dependent on time and place and that patients should have increased freedom and knowledge regarding their health. Here at Dignio, we help home health organizations leverage remote patient care technology in order to add greater value to patients and their caregivers, and drive greater profit margins within the home health organization. If you’d like to see how we can help home health make a greater positive impact in their communities, feel free to reach out to our Connected Care team today!