RPM Technologies Are Powering Up Hospital at Home programs

Eric Rock, Founder & CEO, Vivify Health (part of Optum)

The pandemic may be subsiding, but healthcare organizations are just as committed as ever to offering virtual care programs, including Hospital at Home® and remote patient monitoring (RPM) care models, which continue to gain momentum. As healthcare organizations grow their virtual footprint, now is the time to maximize the performance of the technologies underpinning these programs to streamline care processes, create a tighter, seamless patient experience, and generate cost savings.

Hospital at Home grows up

The Hospital at Home care model, which has accelerated in the last few years, is one model that is ready for a more innovative technology solution. Hospital at Home, which took root in the mid-1990s, offers significant benefits as an alternative to an inpatient stay. Hospital at Home brings the same level of acute-care services to the patient in their home. Typical candidates for Hospital at Home are patients who would ordinarily be admitted for 23-hour observation or those already in programs to manage their chronic conditions who have an acute event.

While this care model has blossomed, it has also been saddled with a costly and dated infrastructure that works better in an actual hospital. Delivering hospital-level care in any setting has traditionally involved equipping the room with a lot of large, complex, and expensive equipment. This approach works well within the hospital’s four walls, where most equipment is permanently stationed in patient rooms and used and maintained regularly.

However, it doesn’t translate as well to a patient’s residence. It takes a tremendous amount of time, work, and cost to move equipment into a patient’s home, set it up, connect it to the patient and the hospital, and then reverse the entire process when the acute event has passed.

Leveling up with RPM applications

Newer technologies being used successfully in virtual care models can replace most of this equipment. For example, RPM technologies that help manage a patient’s chronic conditions at home can now also largely be used for Hospital at Home applications. RPM comes with an advanced technology solution that is easy to deploy and remove. RPM programs often include pre-packaged kits of clinical-grade devices such as digital thermometers, EKG monitors, pulse oximeters, and blood pressure monitors that connect through a tablet or smartphone to deliver data to healthcare professionals on a recurring basis.

The RPM-powered Hospital at Home also brings significant cost savings. For example, a typical admission for 23-hour observation after heart failure costs around $12,000. A Hospital at Home using RPM applications costs a fraction of that amount, while allowing patients to receive care in their home where they are most comfortable.

Avoiding vendor missteps

With the explosive growth of virtual care, RPM, and Hospital at Home programs, many vendor companies are entering the space with various solutions and partnership structures. It’s important to take the time to identify the right partner. As with any new vendor, there is a risk of missteps that could derail an entire Hospital at Home program before it even gets started due to execution problems.

When seeking a Hospital at Home vendor, first and foremost, look for a partner that already has the people, processes, technology, and experience to deliver care that can connect. There are very few companies with more than a few years of experience in the RPM space. Look for a partner with 5+ years of implementing RPM programs successfully.

A potential partner should have a refined technology platform and the processes surrounding it, including the logistics of deployment. Most important, look for a vendor company with an entire team experienced in virtual care programs. They should have a proven history of engaging clinicians, patients, and their families, with metrics to back them up. They should also have a consulting team with clinical experts, including experienced hospital nurses who understand the environment and challenges.

As you get closer to deployment, your vendor partner must know how to execute the critical details that often make or break a program initially, including patient selection and data monitoring. Most importantly, patient care outcomes and satisfaction should be top of mind. A well-thought-out plan, technology solution, and partnership will ensure from the start that the Hospital at Home program offers the right care for the right patients for as long as they need it.


About the Author:

Eric Rock is Founder and CEO of Vivify Health (part of Optum), an innovative leader in connected healthcare delivery solutions. The company’s mobile, cloud-based platform powers holistic remote care management through personalized care plans, biometric data monitoring, multi-channel patient education, and functionality configured to each patient’s unique needs.