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Technology & Tools

Updated June 16, 2021

Maturity Model

The Maturity Model provides high-level guidance for advancing telehealth capabilities. It’s the “what” we hope to achieve. This is the model for Technology & Tools; view the full Maturity Model.

Sustainability Curve 1:
Covid-19 Response
Sustainability Curve 2:
CARE INTEGRATION
Sustainability Curve 3:
EXPANSION & SUSTAINABILITY
Rapid deployment for phone visits; some videoEHR-integrated, HIPAA-compliant, video-enabled; patient devices, data plans, and remote monitoring deployedSpecialists integrated through eConsults and synchronous patient visits

Drivers of Success

The Drivers of Success represent “how” to improve performance. These are the drivers for Technology & Tools; view the full Driver Diagram.

  1. Telehealth platform, integrated with EHR
  2. Accessibility to smart phones and data plans for patients
  3. Remote patient monitoring

Telehealth Platforms

Business, IT, staffing, privacy, and usability should all be considered when selecting a telehealth platform.

Business:

  • Does the vendor offer expertise in the health services your organization offers?
  • Is the vendor cognizant of federal and private payer requirements?
  • What cost is tenable for your organization to devote to telehealth?
  • Which parts of your organization should be involved in the decision-making process?

IT:

  • Does your IT system have the bandwidth and staffing to handle telehealth visits?
  • What features are you looking for in a telehealth video platform?*
  • Who retains responsibility for troubleshooting telehealth visits?
  • What level of technical support does the vendor offer?

Staffing:

  • How can your current staff be trained and integrated in scheduling telehealth visits?
  • How can your current staff be trained and integrated in the visit workflow?
  • Does the platform integrate translators and if so, in what manner?

Privacy:

  • What is the liability structure in case there is a data breach?
  • To what extent can the patient access the data?
  • How can patients indicate consent in the video platform?

Usability

  • What will be the workflow for your healthcare providers and patients to access the platform?
  • What technology do the patients and the provider need to use the platform?
  • How easy is to use the video portion of the platform?
  • How easy does the platform make it to bill patients and payors for the telehealth visit?
  • Resource

    Telehealth Platforms

    An overview of common telehealth platforms and their key features (updated July 2020)

    PDF
  • Resource

    Vendor evaluation checklist, AMA Playbook

    Vendor evaluation checklist pages 32-38

    Visit website

Patient Access to Technology

In order to effectively participate in telehealth, patients need to have access to devices, such as smartphones, tablets, or laptops, and internet or data plans. Screening patients for digital needs may help care teams better understand which patients lack the equipment, internet, or skills needed to successfully engage with telehealth.

  • Resource

    Digital Needs Screening Questions, UCSF

    Screening questions for digital needs

    PDF

National and local resources may be available to provide resources such as free phones or reduced cost internet services.

  • Resource

    FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

    The Emergency Broadband Benefit is an FCC program to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Visit website
  • Resource

    Lifeline Program

    Lifeline is a federal program that lowers the monthly cost of phone and internet

    Visit website

Read more about the importance of digital equity and strategies to bridge the digital divide here.

Remote Patient Monitoring

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a telehealth technology that enables care teams to gather and monitor clinical data, such as vital signs, from patients outside of the typical in-person encounter. Patients can use connected devices, such as Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure monitors, at home. The data from the devices is electronically sent to their care team.

Implementing a RPM program can be a challenging process. The Consortium’s RPM Driver Diagram demonstrates the key components needed to implement a RPM program to successfully manage chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and congestive heart failure.

  • Partner Resource

    Remote Patient Monitoring Driver Diagram

    A RPM Driver Diagram from the Telehealth Consortium

    PDF

Critical elements for a successful RPM program implementation fall into four main areas:

Vendor Selection

preliminary questions

Developing and implementing a RPM program is a complex process. It’s important to think critically about the following questions before beginning a vendor search process. Understanding the answers to these questions will help a health center target their search.

What are your goals for Remote Patient Monitoring?
What do your patients want and need?
How does RPM fit into your organization’s telehealth strategy?
How will you define success for an RPM program?
How is the vendor going to help you meet these success metrics?

key considerations for selecting vendors

With the rapid rise of telehealth technologies brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many new companies that offer RPM technologies and services have emerged. Selecting the right partner is critical for success.

  1. Understand their experience
    Have they worked with other FQHCs?
    Can they provide references?
    How long have they been doing this work?
  2. Assess their ability to support your goals
    Are patient-facing materials appropriate for your patients?
    What is their training and support model?
    How long will implementation take?
  3. Assess their ability to support your workflows
    Is it an “out of the box” product, or can it be customized?
    Is interface user-friendly for all users?
    Can it integrate with your EHR?
    What level of staffing is needed?
  • Resource

    RPM Vendors Overview

    An overview of RPM vendors & platforms and their key features (updated June 2021)

    PDF

Patient Engagement

tips for patient engagement

  • Think about why patients might be motivated to participate, and message accordingly
    • Will participation improve their health? Will this save time, and limit their trips to their health center?
  • How will patients find out about this opportunity? Patients may respond better to strong recommendation from their PCP
  • Can you target patients who are already engaged in another program at your health center?
  • Ensure patient-facing materials and platform interfaces meet the needs of your patient population
  • Start with a small group of patients (5-10)

Program Eligibility Criteria: Patients suitable for RPM

HypertensionDiabeteshypoxemia
Patients who regularly engage in care PLUS one of the following:Patients who regularly engage in care PLUS one of the following:Patients with suspected COVID-19 or Influenza PLUS one of the following:
Patients with uncontrolled HTNPatients with HBA1c > 9 or diabetes complicationsPatients who are at risk for complications (COPD, Asthma, etc.)
Patients on 3 or more HTN drugsPatients on insulin or multiple oral agentsPatients with baseline O2 Saturation <94%
Patients at risk for cardiovascular complicationsPatients at risk for cardiovascular complicationsPatients discharged from hospital for a respiratory condition

Some patients may not be suitable for RPM, such as patients who are not able to follow protocols, patients who decline to sign the RPM consent, and patients with limited ability to manage the technology needed for RPM despite enhanced support from health center.

training plan

It’s important to develop a thorough training plan before implementation. Identify the health center staff who will initially train patients on the use of the equipment and technology, and identify who will be available for ongoing education and technical support. Be sure to test the equipment and patient education materials before you begin to enroll patients to ensure materials are accurate and user-friendly.

Screen patients for digital literacy and access to technology, especially if a smart phone is required for the equipment to work. Ask “Is there someone at home who can support you?” if the patient does not have an aptitude for technology.

  • Resource

    Digital Needs Screening Questions, UCSF

    Screening questions for digital needs

    PDF

Clinical Pathways & Workflows

Health centers will need to develop specific guidelines, policies, and other materials before the launch of a RPM program.

RPM Document Checklist
RPM Consent Form
Should be reviewed with the patient and scanned into their chart
RPM Policy
Health centers may want to develop a policy specific to RPM
Patient Education Materials
Some vendors may provide patient training and education materials
Tracking Spreadsheet
Or other system to evaluate outcomes
  • Resource

    RPM Consent Form

    A sample remote patient monitoring (RPM) patient consent form

    PDF
  • Partner Resource

    Remote Patient Monitoring Policy, CHC of Cape Cod

    A remote patient monitoring (RPM) policy from Community Health Center of Cape Cod

    PDF

Remote patient monitoring of hypertension: Clinical Pathway

The following clinical pathways visually demonstrate a year in the life of a patient. Beginning with an in-person visit, the remainder of the year can consist of a combination of touchpoints, including telemedicine visits, phone check-ins, and remote monitoring. Learn more about clinical pathways here.

  • Partner Resource

    RPM Clinical Pathway for Hypertension

    A Sample Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) Clinical Pathway for Hypertension

    PDF

RPM Program Roles and responsibilites

A successful RPM program requires coordination between the patient, clinical care team, and the IT team.