How AI-enabled Remote Patient Monitoring Reduces Staff Burden, Enables Care at Home

Consider all the manual, repetitive tasks nurses must accomplish each day, performing duties such as scheduling, medication refills, taking vitals and conducting wellness checks, and more.  Stress on the nursing profession has been building for years. It exploded because of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving many nurses feeling fatigued, burned out, and heading for the exits.

For example, a recent survey of 2,500 nurses by staffing firm Incredible Health found that 34% of nurses say it’s very likely that they will leave their roles by the end of 2022, and 44% cited burnout and a high-stress environment as the reason for their desire to leave. Of those planning to quit their jobs, 32% plan to retire or leave the profession altogether.

It’s more than just pandemic-related stress that is driving many nurses to think about leaving the profession. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of nurses report they had been verbally or physically assaulted by a patient or a patient’s family member within the last year, while 32% said they had experienced discrimination and/or racism in the workplace.

At the same time nurses are looking to exit the profession, demand for nurses is projected to grow in the coming years. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 194,500 average annual openings for registered nurses between 2020 and 2030, with employment projected to grow 9%, according to the American Nurses Association.

How AI-enabled RPM can help ease the burden

Through automation and artificial intelligence (AI), many of these duties can be eased for nurses and other clinical staff, enabling them to spend more time on patient-facing and revenue-generating opportunities. As a result of being freed from manual tasks, clinical staff can “practice at the top of their licenses” and apply the full extent of their education, training, experience, and expertise on complex work that boosts job satisfaction and provider productivity. Physicians, nurses and other clinical staff get into this chosen career path for passionate reasons – to focus on helping people – and technology can enable them to do just that.

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) comprises a broad set of technologies that capture physiologic and disease-related data from a user’s home delivering this insightful detail to healthcare providers. When coupled with an AI virtual assistant that engages patients and delivers reminders and feedback for increased patient accountability, it’s a powerful combination. Via AI-enabled RPM, healthcare organizations can reduce stress and burnout for nurses and clinical staff, an especially important consideration in a time of widespread healthcare staff shortages that are expected to continue.

RPM: Increasing accountability via asynchronous care

RPM technology offers numerous benefits to providers and patients. The availability of biometric data continuously allows asynchronous care via text or other store-and-forward technologies so that patients do not have to wait for follow-up visits or catastrophic events for the initiation, escalation, or discontinuation of medical therapies. The data provides a means of earlier intervention, either remotely or as a return visit, to get ahead of common clinical problems such as the need for therapy escalation, change in treatment, or addressing of barriers to improve medication adherence and refill compliance.

For patients, RPM technology delivers the perception of being observed, combined with reminders and feedback, which can create a sense of personal accountability. By regularly measuring key vital signs, patients’ motivation in making healthier decisions to improve these biometrics may also increase.

Further, RPM platforms may reduce therapeutic inertia, allowing for more rapid titration of therapies, such as for hypertension and diabetes, over a shorter course of time.

Additionally, RPM supports the concept of “aging in place,” in which seniors remain in their homes to obtain care rather than moving to assisted-living facilities, for example. More than 75% of consumers said they are willing to get in-home care for anything ranging from a well visit to chronic disease management, according to PwC’s Health Research Institute.

Here are three ways that AI-enabled RPM reduces staff burden and provides more insights for enhanced patient care at home:

  1. Improving medication adherence: Patients fail to adhere to their medication plans for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from common forgetfulness to confusion about whether they took their pills, fear of potentially harmful side effects, the high cost of their prescriptions, and mistrust of their clinicians. Via RPM technology, providers can remain apprised of patients’ vital signs, enabling them to quickly intervene to keep the patient on track rather than letting their non-adherence result in the unnecessary use of additional healthcare resources that can further tax the shortage of clinical staff.
  2. Streamlining billing and reimbursement: Leading RPM solutions make billing more efficient through automated charge drafts, monitoring time tracking, and easy access to claims data for billing substantiation. The technology eases the burden of such back-office tasks, freeing up clinical team members for direct patient care.
  3. Surfacing social determinants of health (SDoH) insights: RPM facilitates the collection of data related to SDoH, such as information pertaining to economic stability, housing, food insecurity/nutrition, as well as transportation and access to care. With a clearer picture of the nonmedical challenges patients are facing, providers can connect seniors to community-based organizations to address these challenges, which can negatively impact an individual’s health.

Given the state of the nursing profession, it is unlikely that healthcare organizations can simply hire their way out of this problem. The industry can turn to technology to bridge the workforce gaps that occur as nursing supply does not meet demand.

Care at home will only continue to take hold. Through automation and AI-enabled RPM technology healthcare organizations can reduce the burden of routine, manual tasks on nurses and clinical staff, deliver greater insights and allow them to devote more focus on patient care and enhanced outcomes.

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