The pandemic accelerated the rapid adoption of technology solutions such as telehealth and remote patient monitoring. However, prior to COVID-19, RPM was already gaining popularity in today’s increasingly value-based healthcare environment. In fact, many leading hospitals, physician groups, home healthcare providers, and other healthcare organizations, in coordination with various payer models, have been leveraging an integrated RPM platform for years. And there’s a good reason for that: reputable RPM solutions improve patient outcomes, reduce healthcare utilization costs, support disease management, reduce hospitalization rates and readmission rates, promote member education, and encourage self-management.

As a result, healthcare providers across the U.S. are adapting to this new healthcare delivery model and turning to companies that specialize in remote patient monitoring (RPM) and telehealth technology for trusted solutions they can implement efficiently and effectively.

Whether your organization is exploring an RPM program for the first time, or you have an existing program and want to ensure it is the best fit, evaluating potential partners is important.

Understanding what to look for in a partner can make all the difference in the success of your organization’s RPM program. Below are a few key factors to consider when choosing an RPM partner:

1. Experience

How established is the company you’re considering, particularly with regard to specialized healthcare RPM solutions? A lot of start-ups and other technology companies are racing to adapt right now by shifting focus to capitalize on what they see as a lucrative current business opportunity. As a result, many are claiming they can offer diversified and comprehensive RPM capabilities – but can they really?

That’s why experience – and even financial stability – should be essential factors in your decision. When considering a potential RPM provider, focus your shortlist on reputable companies with a proven healthcare technology business model that can help you seamlessly make the move to an RPM model and deliver a best-in-class experience for patients as well as your medical and healthcare teams.

Also, it’s important to remember: An established company will be there with you for the long haul because RPM isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, with the sudden and rapid widespread adoption, it’s just now gaining some major momentum.

2. Customization

Your RPM should be highly configurable to match your organization’s specific needs. To be effective, it must have the ability to remotely monitor your patients’ vitals and health status and immediately deliver the information obtained to medical staff. This enables fast response, which is crucial in many instances. Based on the platform you choose and the speed at which you can intervene, you’ll see increased patient satisfaction, quality, HHCAHPS scores, plus improved star and case manager efficiency ratings. Plus, you’ll get maximum reimbursement and increase your ROI.

The key to a successful RPM program is patient adoption and ease of use. To ensure this, you need an RPM provider that offers a variety of HUB options to meet the needs of all patients. Some may be comfortable with a tablet, while others prefer their own phone – as evidenced by the increasingly popular Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) platforms. A third option, often preferred by elderly patients and others, is the simpler interface of a personal emergency response system (PERS), which passively records patient vitals and requires no training to use.

Additional offerings to look for include fall detection, medication dispensers, virtual health assistants, alerts, notifications, recommended escalation actions, and education. For a superior experience for both patient and practitioner, look for configurable software that can determine each individual patient’s needs and allow you to customize the template to reflect your own unique protocols, control tolerances, thresholds, and alerts. Many RPM providers don’t have this sophisticated level of capability, so be sure you ask about flexibility up front.

3. Compatibility

To ensure ease of integration and use, ensure that the RPM platform you consider is easily integrated with existing technology. Look for a company with a robust portfolio of products and services as an indicator of how innovative the company is and how dedicated they are to solving complex healthcare challenges.

The platform you choose should work seamlessly with your EMR system and patient portal – and all user groups should have the ability to send data from devices accurately, on time, and securely right to your systems. Additionally, it should be intuitive and simple to use for health professionals, patients, members, and caregivers. The system should be able to monitor and detect health changes through advanced AI capabilities that can analyze actionable data to easily identify at-risk patients and flag intervention alerts before escalation or readmission.

A choice of connectivity is also an important factor to consider. Look for API integration with your systems. Your platform should also have the ability to connect via cellular, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-enabled peripherals, and communicate via IVR phone calls, text, email, live calls, apps (theirs or yours), or video calls. A worthy RPM partner will offer all of these options.

4. Price Competitive

Ask whether your provider offers the option to rent, lease-to-own or buy equipment. There are various schools of thought on the benefits of each but having that choice will give you peace of mind that you are making the right decision for your organization’s needs rather than committing to something you don’t want or need.

An experienced RPM provider will be able to manage all aspects of your RPM program more cost-effectively. Finding a one-stop-shop where product, service, fulfillment and support are all “under one roof” will ensure program success and save you money in the long run. Don’t forget to inquire about monthly connection charges, app fees, and other potential hidden costs that may reveal themselves later when it’s too late to object. Be clear about what you’re getting upfront and ask a lot of questions. A trusted RPM partner will provide plenty of guidance to help you make informed decisions.

5. Scalability

The RPM provider you choose should be staffed and equipped to implement to the size and scope of your organization.

Ask how quickly they can scale up – and if necessary, scale down – in response to fluctuating patient demand. The ability to scale is a major pain point for many small or niche players in RPM because they do not have the inventory, capacity or support to scale your organization quickly or cost-effectively. Providers that offer staffing support as a supplemental service can help you quickly scale for increased demand. For instance, if you don’t have the staff¬ capacity to handle a surge in patients, a full-service RPM provider will enable you to continue delivering patient care during high-volume cycles by managing nurse triage for you, eliminating the need for significant system or operational changes within your organization.

When looking for an RPM provider, also be sure they are setting realistic timelines, accurate cost projections and clear expectations. Furthermore, look for established companies capable of implementing and managing a large-scale deployment with multiple fulfillment centers that can get you the products you need when you need them.

6. Education, training and support

Only experienced RPM providers can offer a strong education program designed to include tech support, education, and ongoing training to ensure your staff and patients can reap the greatest benefits from your program.

A robust RPM program will also include pre-contract support, ROI transparency, an understanding of who the program champions will be once the contract is signed, managed implementation, hosted training calls, assistance with device setup, meetings with individual clinical teams, milestone mapping, and more.

Therefore, it’s recommended that you choose an RPM partner with a full-scale program, IT support, and a dedicated team committed to seeing your program from pre-contract through to implementation and execution.

Choosing the right RPM partner can make all the difference in the success of your program. It’s important to think beyond your short-term needs and prepare for where you see your organization heading in the future. By choosing an established, forward-thinking RPM provider with a proven track record of bringing innovative technology to the market faster, you’ll be well-positioned for easy implementation and poised for organizational success.