Decreased Workload RPM

How Much Staff Do I Need for RPM?

Optimize Health | 09 February 2022
4 minute read

Most practices start Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) programs with the intent to provide proactive, preventative care. Monitoring patients between office visits enables timely interventions and educational opportunities that improve patient outcomes. This requires clinical staff time to monitor daily readings, engage with patients, and provide ongoing education which can be challenging in today’s world of staffing shortages.

One of the most frequent questions we get asked by practices considering RPM, is “How much time will this take my staff?” Likewise, we also see a lot of practices that could provide significant benefit to their patients with RPM opt not to because they don’t have the clinical staff. Fortunately, we can help you plan for clinical staffing and provide solutions if you feel like you don’t have enough clinical staff.

How Much Clinical Staff Do I Actually Need?

Your RPM clinical monitoring staff should be prepared to engage with your RPM patients regularly, as determined by patient need and clinical protocols. Adding RPM responsibilities to your already stretched-thin clinical staff could lead to insufficient engagement.

In our experience, one full-time dedicated clinical staff member may be able to monitor between 150 – 200 patients, depending on the nature and complexity of the patients’ needs. Smaller RPM programs may choose to dedicate a partial FTE, but it’s critical that you allocate the right number of hours for RPM to meet the needs of your patients.

A staffing calculator can be a very helpful tool in planning for RPM resources. Depending on the clinical needs of your patients, 150 patients per full-time care team member (CTM) is a good starting point to adjust up or down from. If your patient population is more acute or has more complicated conditions, you may need to assign fewer patients to each clinical staff member. The experience and credentials of your CTMs can also impact staffing your clinical monitoring team.

Sample RPM Clinical Staffing Estimates

Keep in mind that 20 minutes of engagement time are required to bill for the 99457 CPT® code. Depending on patient acuity and treatment plans and goals, some patients may benefit from incremental segments of engagement time. In addition, 16-days of data transmission are required for the 99454 CPT® code

In addition, regular interaction with patients may increase the number of patients taking regular readings.  and therefore eligibility for the 99454 CPT® code for 16-days of data transmission.

It’s important to note that your RPM staffing needs will likely change over time as your program grows. If you are planning for growth, you should be ready to flex and increase your RPM resources.

What if I Don’t Have that Much Clinical Staff Time?

Many practices don’t have an extra clinical staff member with no or minimal responsibilities that they can easily allocate to RPM. Many practices will need to consider hiring additional clinical staff or outsourcing the monitoring to make RPM as successful as possible. The potential benefits of expanding your practice to include RPM often outweigh the investment in RPM clinical staffing expenses. Your RPM partner should help you conduct a simple Return on Investment analysis that will justify the expense of either option below.

  1. Self-Monitoring: Your clinical team (either existing or new hires) conducts the monitoring.
  2. Partner-Managed Monitoring: Many RPM software vendors offer clincal monitoring services. When executed properly, their clinical staff will follow your processes and clinical culture.

While it may feel like you are forfeiting some control with partner-managed clinical monitoring, a strong vendor will act as an extension of your own clinical staff. Outsourcing clinical monitoring has several potential key advantages:

  • Experienced Registered Nurses who follow your clinical protocols can assess and triage to minimize false escalations
  • Partners can flex clinical staff to your patient volume, allowing you to grow at any pace with “just-in-time” clinical staffing
  • Your staff can focus on in-office visits and other practice priorities

With partner-managed clinical monitoring, your practice will still need to have the resources available to manage patient escalations and patient interventions, such as changes to medication and treatment plans. This also helps ensure your practice retains control of the patient’s overall health and progress towards their goals.

Making the Right Clinical Staffing Decision for Your Practice

The first step in determining which solution is right for you is using the RPM clinical staffing calculator to estimate the resources you need. Then, compare the projected clinical staffing needs to your team’s current workload and availability. With that information, you can weigh the complete pros and cons to self-managed versus partner-managed RPM programs.

If you need help with the financial analysis or want more information on partner-managed RPM, our RPM experts are happy to set up a free consultation.