Patients smiling

How Cellular Devices Drive Patient Adherence

Optimize Health | 02 August 2022
3 minute read

The clinical and financial success of remote patient monitoring (RPM) depends on patients using connected devices to take daily readings. Clinically, providers need consistent and regular data to provide the best possible continuous, preventative care. Financially, Medicare and most payors require a minimum of 16 days of readings every 30 days to receive reimbursement for CPT® Code 99454.

There are many factors that influence how compliant a patient will be in taking the prescribed readings, but one of the critical factors is the device itself.

Why Devices Matter

Some patients may be resistant to devices that they perceive as complicated new technology. Bluetooth devices can seem particularly overwhelming for less tech savvy patients. These devices require the patient to have a smartphone, download an app, pair the device to the app, and have an internet connection at home to sync their readings.

It’s important to understand your patient’s access to technology (do they have or can they afford a smartphone?) as well as their comfort and ability to use and regularly update apps.

Easy-to-use devices can dramatically increase the likelihood of a patient taking regular readings and being successful in the RPM program.

The Advantages of Cellular Devices

From a patient use standpoint, RPM-connected devices that use cellular technology are similar to non-connected devices. For example, a patient using a cellular blood pressure device only has to push one button to take a reading and transmit the data. With an RPM-enabled cellular scale, patients simply steps on and off, just like a regular scale. And a cellular pulse ox only requires putting the device on your finger until the reading registers.

The advantages of cellular RPM devices include:

  • Ready to use out of the box–no setup required
  • No apps, downloads, pairing, or syncing needed
  • Can transmit patient data from virtually anywhere with cellular service (no cell phone plan required)
  • No additional technology costs for the patient, such as smartphone, computer, or high-speed internet

The Challenges with Bluetooth Devices

In contrast, Bluetooth devices require a smart device, mobile app, and internet connection. Pairing, syncing, and updating apps can be challenging for non-tech savvy patients. Even if a staff member spends time setting up the app for the patient, a required update or sync could cause it to stop working. If the patient didn’t understand how it was set up in the first place, they will likely stop taking readings.

In addition, research from the AARP shows that the cost of technology, including high-speed internet access can be prohibitive for some older adults. 60% of adults age 50 and older report that the cost of high-speed internet is problematic for them.

The Right Device with the Right Engagement Plan

An easy-to-use device is a starting point for driving patient adherence, but certainly not the end point. Additional ways to drive patient adherence and engagement include:

  • Conducting successful onboarding appointment to set the foundation for patient expectations on taking readings
  • Talking to patients about the benefits of RPM in a way that encourages them to take control of their healthcare
  • Daily monitoring and communication with patients from your clinical staff (in-house or outsourced)
  • Building trusted relationships with patients so they are motivated to take readings
  • Using an RPM platform that provides easy visibility into which patients are engaged with the program and which need additional outreach

Meeting the Needs of Your Patients

While some RPM equipment focuses on advanced features and functionality, Optimize Health understands that devices need to be easy-to-use, financially accessible, and match patient’s comfort level with technology.

We have seen hundreds of practices successfully use cellular devices to drive patient adherence. We have also seen many practices distribute Bluetooth devices, only to replace them with cellular devices because the adherence is so low.

Ready to Drive Engagement with Cellular Devices?

If you are struggling to get patients to take readings or are thinking about launching an RPM program, chat with an RPM expert to see how cellular devices can help drive your patient engagement.