South Florida Hospital News – January 2022
By Barbara R. Fallon
Q. Is there a doctor in the house?
A. Quite possibly, especially if physicians and community health care centers take telehealth to the next level through WITHmyDOC.
WITHmyDOC is a digital health company which virtually connects patients to their care teams, providing real-time data to control symptom and disease progression. Founded in 2018, WITHmyDOC uses a web-based intelligence platform for remote patient monitoring (RPM) which is transforming healthcare delivery.
Through the platform, partnering health systems, physician practices and healthcare organizations can provide remote patient monitoring that facilitates proactive intervention for chronic care management and telehealth visits.
According to Jorge Rodriguez, VP Sales and Marketing, who joined the company in pre-COVID 2020, the pandemic has played a role in accelerating improved acceptance of the value of remote patient monitoring.
While software engineers, digital experts and developers knew that capability and opportunity existed pre-COVID for connecting providers and patients outside of physician offices and health clinics; the practice of telehealth visits and remote patient monitoring had limited acceptance with only a 1% market share. However, when the pandemic further contributed to staffing shortages and professional stress and burnout, it fortified the entrepreneurial spirit of WITHmyDOC to provide new methodologies and remote resources for physicians and patients.
“Now, the increased education and improved reimbursement guidelines have given remote patient monitoring more traction and physician acceptance which results in a greater opportunity for remote patient care,” he said.
With the extreme nursing shortages caused by expansion of lucrative opportunities for travel nurses; and heightened physician burnout rates due to intense hospital-based monitoring of COVID patients; along with the COVID fear trend of patients postponing office visits; there was a need for an alternate business strategy for physician practices to provide quality care to patients.
Patients have many reasons for not making it to the office from transportation issues to childcare responsibilities, or job and low-income constraints. Virtual monitoring can alleviate many of these valid excuses with home monitoring devices and video to provide needed diagnosis and care to patients in their homes, community settings and other locations particularly as hospitals face the crisis of high occupancy due to COVID.
WITHmyDOC created and launched the RPM@Home® program which places high value on patient engagement, adoption and adherence resulting in improved outcomes. Using artificial intelligence this platform helps monitor patients and transmits real-time data enabling healthcare providers to review patient biometric data as frequently as needed between office visits, making it easier to detect, diagnose and treat symptoms such as high blood pressure, low oxygen levels, increase/decrease in weight due to medications, arrhythmias, high temperature and elevated blood glucose levels. Studies show that incorporating RPM in chronic disease management of patients with co-morbidities can significantly improve patient quality of life by preventing complications.
RPM@Home® patients are provided with wireless sensor kits to use at home to electronically record vital signs that are to be monitored. For example, the O2 saturation sensor is a clip the patient puts on his finger to record the oxygen level; an EKG patch is put on the chest and it records tracing of the heart rhythm; the blood pressure monitor wirelessly records systolic and diastolic measures directly into the system. The kit also includes an 8-inch tablet, which is used to capture and record information into the database.
Education and Communication Is Vital
However, providing equipment to patients at no cost, without vital education of and communication with patients regarding the commitment to monitoring their vitals to avoid further deterioration does not promise patient adherence success. For example, thanks to client feedback, WITHmyDOC recognized that nurse staffing shortages are creating problems for physicians and so they created their teams – PEP squad (Patient Engagement Professionals) and MED squad (RN Patient specialists) — to help with the heavy lifting, according to Rodriguez.
“Our PEP squad provides training to ensure confidence, knowledge, and ease of use. They work with patients in their home to introduce RPM and follow-up to assure understanding not only on how to use the equipment itself, but on the importance of consistent transmission of their physiological data to the care team for monitoring. Additionally, our MED Squad specialists are available if a full-service clinical monitoring program is preferred and provides a valuable benefit by easing the burden on physicians,” he said.
WITHmyDOC nurses can provide monitoring of key vitals and simultaneously encourage patient engagement through regular communications, check-ins and reminders. The MED squad checks the automatic alerts categorized into non-urgent, urgent, and emergent groupings and connects with the physician to determine care plans. The staff understands how important it is for patients to become comfortable with the new technology and ease-of-use early on and for physician alerts to be shared in real time.
Rodriguez explained that the RPM@Home® system is not meant to replace traditional office visits. Its purpose is to consistently provide more data to physicians to help guide their decision-making, increasing proactive intervention to reduce costly ER visits that are a financial burden on our health and satisfy reimbursement guidelines. Providers can increase their care footprint through the use of RPM, relieving their time stress and yielding more job satisfaction.
Improved Care for Vulnerable Populations
Additionally, the American Rescue Plan and the FCC COVID-19 Telehealth program now allows Community Health Centers to use federal grant funding for telehealth and RPM services specifically for the vulnerable under-insured and uninsured communities who otherwise often forego care due to lack of transportation, inability to find a doctor or lack of time to seek primary care due to physical challenges, home childcare responsibilities and/or job hour limitations. Care is postponed until it is urgent and often at a higher cost and more ominous to recuperation.
Rodriguez summarized, “RPM@Home® kit offers many advantages using the latest breakthroughs in medical technology to monitor chronically ill patients that typically require more attention. Proactively reducing ER visits and readmissions minimizes emergent situations which could help to alleviate provider burnout. The platform allows providers to receive real-time patient information to quickly and efficiently review a large number of monitored patients. Its reporting functionality also facilitates billing.”
“By using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, this user-friendly, end-to-end, web-based intelligence system is designed for success, and is here to stay,” he predicts.
For additional information, visit www.withmydoc.com to request a demo.