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Text messaging: The secret weapon for remote patient monitoring success

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Texting can be used in numerous ways to help support and grow an RPM program.

doctor texting | © bnenin - stock.adobe.com

© bnenin - stock.adobe.com

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) has experienced a significant rise in adoption, and providers looking to improve patient engagement and adherence in their RPM programs are increasingly turning to text messaging. Texting can be used in numerous ways to help support and grow an RPM program, achieving key touch points with patients that establish and keep them as active participants. When using text messaging for RPM, providers are achieving more consistent capturing of patient data, greater patient self-management of their conditions, enhanced communication and care coordination, better outcomes and improved billing and collections.

The following are examples of the touch points where text messaging can have significant, positive effects on an RPM program.

Confirming eligibility. Once a provider determines a patient is eligible for RPM, a text message can inform patients of their eligibility. The message can encourage patients to call to schedule their initial, in-person RPM appointment where they can learn more about RPM, enroll in the program, receive onboarding, and receive their RPM device (if applicable). Two-way texting, which allows information to be pushed and pulled from recipients, can enable providers to ask patients if they would like to receive a phone call to discuss RPM and schedule their appointment. Patients can then respond with a text to accept the offer.

RPM device updates. If patients will receive their RPM device in the mail from a vendor rather than at the provider's office, text messages can keep patients current on when they should expect to receive the device. When tracking shows the device has been delivered, a two-way text can go to patients asking them to confirm they received the equipment.

When patients confirm receipt, a subsequent text can include links to videos and other materials that walk patients through device setup and usage. The message can also ask if patients would like to receive a phone call from the provider to discuss setup and usage that can further support information included with the device.

First successful device usage. When using an RPM device for the first time, patients may question whether they have done so correctly. To alleviate concerns, providers can send patients a text message informing them that they were successful, and that data is flowing properly. Praising patients can help with engagement.

This text message can also ask patients if they have questions about using their device or encountered challenges and include a phone number patients can call to receive assistance. A two-way text message gives patients the option to reply and receive a call from the provider.

One month of success. A significant RPM challenge is getting patients to follow the schedule for taking readings. Providers can send text messages acknowledging when patients have successfully completed their first month in an RPM program and encourage patients to continue to adhere to the readings schedule.

Decline in readings. When an RPM system flags a patient who is not consistently taking readings, providers can send a text reminding patients of the importance of adherence and asking if they require assistance. Reminder text messages early in a patient's RPM program experience can help establish a good routine that leads to more consistent readings and an adequate number of readings for providers to bill for the service.

Clinical interventions. When RPM device readings indicate a patient's health is experiencing a significant, undesirable change, providers can send text messages informing patients that a clinical intervention is needed and explaining to patients what they should do, such as scheduling an appointment with the provider's office or going to the emergency room, if warranted.

Ongoing health feedback and advice. Not all changes in readings require an urgent intervention. In instances when readings are gradually moving in the wrong direction, providers can send texts that share feedback and advice on what patients can do to get their measurements back into a healthier range.

Telehealth support. Patients using RPM can benefit from supporting telehealth appointments. They can help with troubleshooting device usage and reviewing instructions while giving providers an opportunity to provide new guidance that can help patients with disease management.

Text messages can include a link to a provider's telehealth platform, which turns a patient's phone into a telehealth tool. A text messaging solution should include the capability to inform providers when patients receive telehealth invitation text messages. Once the patient selects the link, a web browser or the phone's default videotelephony app will automatically open and the camera on the phone should activate, making it simple for patients to take advantage of telehealth.

Patient collections. Patients enrolled in RPM will likely have ongoing expenses (e.g., copays). Text messages can inform or remind patients of their financial responsibility and include a link to a portal through which patients can submit payments or a phone number patients can call to make payments.

Online reviews. Providers can send text messages to increase online reviews about their RPM program. Texts can include a direct link to a platform where providers maintain a profile (e.g., Google, Facebook) and encourage patients to review and comment on their experience.

Satisfaction surveys. Texts can be used to conduct satisfaction surveys and get feedback from RPM program participants. The text message can provide a link to an online satisfaction survey, including a phone number patients can call to discuss their experience, and/or ask patients to reply to a question in a two-way text that asks patients rate their RPM experience.

Engaging family members. When patients using RPM receive ongoing support from family members, texting can provide these caregivers with updates and information.

Improving your remote patient monitoring program with texting

For providers launching an RPM program or growing an existing program, text messaging is proving to be a difference-maker that's helping achieve clinical, operational, and financial improvements. Texting, particularly two-way text messaging, can drive greater patient engagement and adherence, billing and collections, patient satisfaction, and program growth, all while reducing staff workload and the number of manual RPM program management tasks.

Adding and using text messaging as a communication mechanism is typically easy and fast, and it's a channel that should be considered a key component of any RPM program.

Brandon Daniell is co-founder and chief revenue officer of Dialog Health, a provider of a HIPAA-compliant, conversational two-way texting platform to organizations which they can leverage as a communication and engagement channel.

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