Remote monitoring from LMH Health helps patients with chronic health conditions
LMH Health recently launched remote patient monitoring, a new program to better serve patients with chronic and uncontrolled conditions at home.
Remote patient monitoring, or RPM, gives patients a digital medical device to record their health data, such as weight, heart rate, blood pressure or blood sugar levels. The device connects to an application on their smartphone, which sends the data in real time to the patient’s provider so they can review it and intervene if necessary.
Janette Kirkpatrick, vice president of clinical excellence at LMH Health, said the RPM program is part of LMH’s focus on preventative health care.
“RPM makes health care more accessible to patients,” Kirkpatrick said. “With regular monitoring of a patient’s condition, providers are able to immediately recognize a problem and work with the patient to correct it. This will keep individuals out of more serious, emergency-department situations — and, ultimately, lower an individual’s health care cost.”
Currently, the RPM program focuses on patients who have or are at risk for chronic or uncontrolled conditions like diabetes, hypertension and heart failure. LMH plans to grow the program to monitor other diseases as more patients enroll.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six out of 10 adults in the U.S. have a chronic medical condition, and four out of 10 have two or more chronic conditions.
To assist uninsured patients and those who are unable to pay the out-of-pocket cost for RPM, the LMH Health Foundation is providing donor funds to cover the cost.
“Through the pandemic, we realized the value of remote services,” Kirkpatrick said. “RPM is one vital way that LMH Health is ensuring access to quality health care for all community members.”
The health data collected by the devices is transmitted directly to the patient’s records. Significant changes — such as blood pressure measurements that are too high — will trigger a notification to the provider, who can review the result in real time and call the patient to check in.
Nurse Caitlin Bowlin actively monitors the patients enrolled in RPM. She reaches out to patients when their measurements change and communicates with their primary care physicians or other specialists as needed.
Bowlin, who previously worked 10 years in emergency nursing, said moving to a role that focuses on preventative care was a positive change for her.
“I’m used to caring for people who come to the hospital because they’re sick,” Bowlin said. “Working on the RPM program is amazing — we are catching things early, and we are able to intervene when we see an individual’s health trends going the wrong way. We are hopeful this will decrease unnecessary visits and hospitalizations altogether.”
Although LMH Health’s RPM program has only existed for a few months, Bowlin said she has already seen some benefits.
“Patients feel cared about, knowing that someone is keeping an eye on their health,” Bowlin said. “People really like this one-on-one care and having an additional provider they can reach out to when needed.”
Dr. Gregory Schnose, director of population health at LMH, said that RPM can make health care for chronic conditions more efficient and effective. For example, patients with diabetes who regularly monitor their blood glucose would normally write down their numbers in a log and review it with their physician at an appointment. However, those appointments usually only take place once every several months.
“With RPM, the data is automatically sent to our care team and continuously reviewed,” Schnose said. “Questions are answered more quickly and adjustments to medication, diet or lifestyle can already be addressed ahead of the patient’s next visit. This way, the patient can get ahead of the game in terms of controlling their disease.”
Malwina Zastawna, population health manager at LMH Health, oversees the RPM program and said it engages patients in a new and meaningful way.
“We want patients to be their own advocate and at the center of their care team,” Zastawna said. “By enrolling in this program, people are saying, ‘Yes, I want to take a more active role in my health care.'”
The program isn’t just about helping patients be more involved in their care. It’s also about breaking down a common barrier to health care: transportation.
“Some patients have trouble getting to the doctor because of lack of transportation, or frailty,” Schnose said. “Others may just avoid the visit. RPM helps us address this issue and make it easier for patients to get the care they need.”
Kirkpatrick said RPM is also a great resource for patients living farther away from their medical providers or in rural locations.
“We talk a lot about our patients taking ownership or being actively involved in their health care,” Kirkpatrick said. “RPM allows them the ability to really be a partner in the care that our providers are delivering.”