The technology to launch and scale virtual care has been around for 5-10 years but had not gained mass-market uptake by healthcare providers until recently.

Long before COVID-19, health systems and health plans were highly interested in and investing in remote patient monitoring (RPM) as a way to build a better patient experience, produce more clinical efficiencies for care teams, and create better outcomes for patients. But, mass-market adoption lagged. Similarly, prior to COVID-19, telehealth had really only achieved modest adoption. Usage increased from 11 percent of U.S. consumers in 2019 to 49 percent in the summer of 2020.

Virtual care emerged as an effective and sustainable solution to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Providers and patients could engage from their respective homes to deliver quick and safe treatments, diagnosis, and care. With the swift shift to virtual care strategies like telehealth and RPM, the healthcare industry has advanced seven years in the last seven months.

Last week, Validic CEO Drew Schiller joined Damo Consulting Founder and CEO Paddy Padmanabhan on The Big Unlock to discuss digital transformation and virtual care technologies. 

| Listen to the podcast episode here: 

The Swift Switch to Virtual Health

Before COVID-19, it was more likely that a number of patients living with diabetes, hypertension, and heart failure were regularly being treated in-person at monthly or quarterly clinical appointments or at the hospital if any adverse events occurred.

When COVID-19 hit the U.S., patients who were afraid of contracting the virus stayed away from their doctor’s office and canceled essential appointments that help them manage their condition. A report found that in-person visits are still roughly one-third lower than they were before the pandemic. “And so now you have a whole population of individuals who were under-managed relative to how they had been seen previously,” said Schiller. 

In the days, weeks, and months that have followed COVID-19, health systems, providers, and clinics were (and still are) facing massive challenges with treating the rising number of COVID-19 patients and are dealing with staffing furloughs, revenue losses, and managing their most at-risk patients who canceled appointments. “Due to COVID, health systems realized how far behind they were with virtual care technologies,” said Schiller. “And even when they shifted to video visits, physicians were missing critical elements to managing these chronic diseases: data. Doctors need data to practice medicine, especially when they’re managing patients with chronic disease. Data helps drive detailed conversations between patients and providers that can initiate lifestyle and behavior changes that help the patient feel supported during this challenging time and create better patient outcomes.” 

Change Management is Key For Successful RPM Implementation 

How we prepare, equip, and support stakeholders involved in remote patient monitoring programs is key to moving from a pilot to enterprise-wide scale. 

“One of the challenges, I saw before COVID and has continued, is that change management in these organizations is really still difficult,” said Schiller. “And while I have seen that remote patient monitoring in virtual care, in general, is getting a heavy level of focus and investment, there’s frequently decision by committee” which Schiller says can slow the pace of innovation, integration, and launch.

Many healthcare organizations struggle with change management because so many committees have to sign-off, which means RPM programs are not getting in place fast enough for departments or physician groups. This causes pilot programs to start off on the wrong foot causing vendor, legal, or internal conflict because there isn’t a comprehensive strategy in place. 

Remote Patient Monitoring With Validic 

Traditional RPM is usually a free-standing full-stack program that includes either a solution living outside the clinical workflow, a solution designed for RPM but not for remote care delivery, or a solution where all of the data live in a standalone environment and not in the EHR or clinical workflow. 

“When we launched Validic, it was primarily the personal health data platform. And so, what we did first was integrate with hundreds of disparate sources [e.g. wearables, health and wellness apps] and in-home medical devices. And then once we had that platform, we found that one of the primary use cases was remote monitoring for health systems and health plans,” said Schiller.  From there, we created a solution that can scale across the enterprise to support any disease state with any type of device and any type of data for use by multiple departments.

Validic Impact is a remote monitoring platform that can enable seamless management of remote care programs within existing clinical workflows and systems. The Validic Impact solution was designed to augment, not replace, existing electronic health record (EHR) and care management functionality with integrated goals, content management, and alerts to help care teams manage at-risk populations more efficiently and proactively. The solution can integrate with the virtual visit solution(s), chat and messaging tools, deep analytics platforms, patient experience, and other clinical tools already in place.

The Impact solution offers broad device connectivity and data aggregation capabilities – with the ability to integrate data from nearly 500 wearables and clinical-grade home health devices. The solution offers the necessary analytics, workflows, and visualizations to enable multiple organizational roles to create and personalize remote care programs across multiple conditions for better population-level and individual-level support.

Additionally, Validic launched Validic Impact: Rapid Deployment last month which offers providers a standalone, web-based application to manage device-driven RPM programs. The solution is offered with an ease of use that allows providers to quickly purchase and launch.

“We are trying to help our clients and our partners get up to speed and run even faster with these programs, rather than going through a traditional heavy implementation route and trying to fit IT implementation schedules,” said Schiller. This approach allows providers to quickly launch programs with a rapid deployment option and integrate when resources and priorities aligned to scale these programs within the EHR and clinical workflow.

Creating Sustainable Revenue From Funding And Reimbursement 

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched a $200M Telehealth Program. These funds were intended to help healthcare providers furnish remote care services to patients in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, as providers have seen a growing shift and demand for virtual care services, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have expanded reimbursement offerings for RPM to support Medicare providers. 

Our blog, “Your Guide to Reimbursement for Remote Patient Monitoring,” covers the CPT Codes health organizations can use for quick deployment and scaling of RPM programs. | To listen to the full podcast, click here.

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