Mar 17 2023
Patient-Centered Care

How Remote Patient Monitoring Enhances Nurse Workflows

As more health systems are adopting remote patient monitoring, experts say nurses need to be a part of considering new technologies.

Health systems and hospitals across the country are using remote patient monitoring (RPM) to expand resources from the care center to patients’ homes. With the COVID-19 pandemic came an onslaught of adoption of patient-care technologies in 2020, including a ramping up of RPM for both chronic and acute conditions.

Between 2019 and 2022, RPM procedure claims rose 1,300 percent, according to a March 2023 report by Definitive Healthcare. Nurses rank fourth in specialties with the highest share of RPM procedure claims (7.4 percent share of patients, 5 percent share of procedures), according to the report.

For nurses, who are often on the front-line connecting patients to healthcare systems, the adoption of RPM and other technologies can be helpful but also overwhelming.

“We are the bridge between patients and technology, and we’ve been doing that for a long time,” says Beverly Malone, president and CEO of the National League for Nursing and a HealthTech influencer.

When technology is used to help nurses be more efficient in their roles, it can add value, she adds.

“I'm of the leadership idea that the chief nursing officers will be overlooking and making sure that patients get the care they need within the hospital system so they can be monitored at home, and that those who really don’t need to go into hospital, don’t go into hospital,” Malone says.

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How Remote Patient Monitoring Improves Health Outcomes

RPM can help providers get a faster read on patients, especially those with chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, says Todd Bellemare, senior vice president of strategic solutions at Definitive Healthcare. He adds that RPM can also help providers understand behavior barriers that can get in the way of medication adherence and daily readings like blood sugar levels.

“The patient can short circuit some of those expensive patient interventions like going to the emergency department,” Bellemare says.

In a recent study by the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, the use of RPM devices decreased hospitalizations by 65 percent and emergency department visits by 44 percent for COPD patients.

“We’ve talked for 20 years about prevention and maintenance as opposed to just treating the symptoms of a disease in the end,” Bellemare says. “RPM offers us an opportunity to put into practice all of those conversations about maintenance and prevention that we’ve had for the last 20 years.”

EXPLORE: How to integrate remote patient monitoring data to improve health outcomes.

Nurses Respond to Remote Patient Monitoring Adoption

The bandwidth of nurses has been shrinking over the years, with the stress of the pandemic being overwhelming to many, Bellemare says.

“That time spent directly with patients is such a huge component of the why of what they’re doing and why they’re in that profession in the first place,” Bellemare says. “Once you start adding all of these ancillary administrative burdens to them, it becomes almost unbearable.”

Though some nurses view the addition of more technologies as additional administrative work and a threat to their roles. In 2021, National Nurses United and the California Nurses Association issued a joint statement saying that Kaiser Permanente’s “healthcare-at-home” initiative would undermine nurses’ role in care.

In a 2020 Journal of Internet Research report, half of nurses surveyed reported feeling distressed by RPM adding more to mounting workloads. Even so, all nurses stated that RPM increased patient safety.

“If hospitals and health systems can find a way to reduce that administrative burden and technical burden on the nurses, their workplaces will fare much better,” Bellemare says.

Todd Bellemare
If hospitals and health systems can find a way to reduce that administrative burden and technical burden on the nurses, their workplaces will fare much better.”

Todd Bellemare Senior Vice President of Strategic Solutions, Definitive Healthcare

Tips for Better Remote Patient Monitoring Implementation

It is important that healthcare organizations understand the additional work that comes with different RPM devices before implementing, says Bellemare. Because of the wide range of RPM devices and interoperability, some devices deliver data via a PDF and providers have to manually key that data into the electronic health record. While others can match data directly into existing EHR systems.

“If a nurse is trying to read a PDF of a printout from someone’s RPM device, and then trying to plug it into their electronic record, that’s time away from doing the things that they feel are the best part about their job for both themselves and their patients,” Bellemare says.

A remote care policy is also valuable to ensure that technologies aren’t taking precedence over the mission of patient care, Malone says.

“There should be some kind of umbrella policy that says, we work to make sure that care being delivered at home or remotely is of a high quality as the care being delivered at a hospital,” Malone says. “And to do that, we do these things to make sure of that. There’s something to refer to so that every nurse or doctor understands this is the policy of this institution.”

Malone says that allowing nurses to be at the table when IT decisions are made ensures that new technology is useful for providers.

“We know that when nurses are at the table, better decisions are made around technology and innovations, better systems are developed, and funding is given for those systems to operate effectively,” Malone says.

UP NEXT: Learn how medical devices work cohesively with mHealth apps.

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