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Using Health Technology to Meet Patients Where They Are

As so often seems to be the case, what’s old is new again, with a modern twist. Healthcare is turning attention back to the house call. This time around, instead of the doctor arriving at your doorstep with his medical bag in hand, it could be your pharmacist engaging with you over video chat or text message because your at-home devices triggered a warning signal about your wellbeing. Marcus Welby, meet the Jetsons.

After decades of healthcare being centralized in increasingly large, complex, insulated hospitals and systems, consolidating with and acquiring smaller practices along the way, healthcare professionals who are keen on delivering optimum patient care, and healthcare administrators who are keen on delivering optimum efficiency are equally appreciating the value of patient-directed, personalized service. In keeping with evolving perspectives, personalized and digitized are very much aligned.

Among the buzzier terms among so many health-related buzzwords these days: remote patient monitoring. It feels like almost overnight this idea of taking care of people where they are has become the next hot new thing. It’s not, actually, a new thing, but it is meaningfully accelerated and amplified by the availability of emerging technologies. The same Bluetooth connections we rely upon daily, without a second thought, to use our phones in the car or stream subscription media sources, connect patients’ healthcare devices, monitors, and trackers to their phones, which subsequently sync with apps viewable to them and/or their healthcare providers. The resulting access creates actionable opportunities to intervene in the moment, based on that person’s specific indications.

What’s more, these strategies are receiving increasing endorsement. For example, CMS has included what they’re terming remote therapeutic monitoring in the 2022 Physician Fee Schedule. COVID-driven policy waivers have made it possible for more patients to seek care virtually.

Are these only the beginning of wider-scale adoption? We think so, and we’re far from alone in that sentiment. The proverbial sky could be the limit when it comes to how these trends may change the modern practice of medicine. And, for that matter, how about an equal pivot to embrace the entire spectrum of healthcare providers? For much of the day-to-day care management patients require support with, health professionals including pharmacists, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners are abundantly adept at meeting patient needs. An inclusive definition of healthcare provider in reimbursement plans serves patients as well as the medical professions, which are facing dire challenges related to staffing shortages and burnout.

Possibly the best part about remote patient monitoring is that it’s not zero sum. Patients who engage with their providers through these modalities aren’t asked, or expected, to forego in-person care when appropriate or desired. This level of personalized care, centered around the patient’s own health information and needs, unifies, rather than further fragments, care delivery. And that’s a theme we can all get behind.

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