Here’s Why Virtual Care is Here to Stay
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) and Telehealth have been steadily increasing. Researchers found that Medicare billing for RPM increased by 555% from Jan. 1, 2018, to Sept. 30, 2021.
The big question for providers is whether the trend will hold firm as the pandemic eases and access to care improves. Alongside the pandemic, technological advances in wearables have also allowed for virtual care improvements. Here’s what experts say is the future of RPM in post-COVID healthcare.
COVID-19 and Healthcare Access
While primary care doctors kept seeing patients throughout the pandemic, research shows that as many as 41% of adults delayed medical care in the early months of the pandemic. Patients with chronic conditions also avoided hospitals and clinics due to being at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19.
That led to most patients feeling isolated and suffering setbacks to their health. These patients needed close contact with physicians to stay on track with their chronic condition care. Delaying care could have long-term impacts on their health and could mean a hospital or ER visit. That’s where RPM came in and helped physicians and patients stay in close contact with fewer in-person interactions.
During the pandemic, healthcare systems were also burdened with more patients due to the need for episodic care. That led to a 50% increase in Telehealth in Q1 2020.
Real-time monitoring using RPM can help with the following vital signs:
- Glucose levels
- Heart rhythm
- Vital signs
- And more
Remote Patient Monitoring programs can be adapted to the patient's level of technology literacy and medical condition, allowing diverse patient populations to make the most of the healthcare shift to digital avenues. Additionally, those with mobility issues and living in rural areas found that Telehealth made care more available to them than ever before.
Virtual Care Benefits During the COVID-19 Pandemic
A survey of patients who used virtual care tools during the pandemic found that 60% want to continue using technology for care post-pandemic. The main reasons they want to see Virtual Care continue is due to improvements in making care:
- More convenient
Virtual Care removes barriers that many providers do not consider when formatting care, such as waiting room stress or taking time off work to receive care. When reviewing the quality of Virtual Care, 90% of patients said they found their care to be as good or better than what they received pre-pandemic with in-person care.
The future of RPM looks bright, given new benefits for Telehealth that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has put in place over the last few years. Virtual visits now receive the same financial coverage as in-person visits.
Technology has also seen many impressive improvements to better support Telehealth, and patients are recognizing those improvements. Sixty-three percent of patients who used video conferencing for Telehealth felt that the technology was very good or excellent.
Despite receiving care over digital devices, 47% of patients said they felt their care was more personalized. Many respondents (41%) also said they received faster responses. Plus, 40% said access to care was more convenient when adding remote patient monitoring to their care plan.
Wearables are also increasing data points for providers and making vital health statistic tracking simpler for patients. While wearables started as lifestyle-focused, their applications for healthcare and disease management continue to increase and allow artificial intelligence to be used in remote care.
One of the best outcomes from increases in Telehealth over the last few years is that 60% of patients trust their healthcare providers more than they did before adding Telehealth tools.
How Providers Can Shape the Future of Virtual Care
As research demonstrates that Remote Patient Monitoring is not just a temporary fix due to the pandemic, providers have an opportunity to meet patient needs and shape the future of virtual care.
Ensuring all patients have access to the care they need is essential, yet many physicians are overworked and struggling to keep up with their patient population. RPM offers a solution to providing outstanding care, lowering costs, and improving access to care for everyone.
Implementing a Remote Patient Monitoring program is the best way to support the future of virtual care. Learn more about RPM and how you can build an effective virtual care program to meet the needs of your patients.