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Leveraging Remote Patient Monitoring to Advance Health Literacy and Equity Initiatives

As we continue to scale telemedicine approaches in the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, many advanced features can be implemented and optimized for safety-net settings. Today's providers, innovators and regulators must continue to push for adoption of technology that can drive virtual care in populations disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and chronic conditions. For example, remote patient monitoring (RPM) can empower patients to manager their health and participate in their health care. RPM can give clinicians a holistic view of a patient's health over time, increase visibility into a patient's adherence to treatment and enable timely intervention before a costly care episode. 

Health care organizations should promote health literacy in all patient-facing interactions, including RPM, which can be an essential tool for improving health literacy. Because the patient is at the center of all interactions and communication, understanding a patient’s beliefs is essential. Health care providers must understand what a patient cares about, how they encounter the world, their baseline of understanding and what matters most to them.  

Care plan understanding, including symptom management and prescription adherence 

RPM helps patients adhere to a care plan. Through tools like medication reminders, symptom reporting, reading vitals and condition-specific education (based on what the patient can understand), telehealth can help patients understand and self-manage their condition. 

Making informed decisions about treatment options 

For patients with low health literacy, making informed decisions can be difficult. RPM can help patients understand their condition over time, empowering them to feel confident managing their condition. Health care organizations can also provide additional information and respond to questions about treatment options through the RPM platform.  

Knowing when a situation is an emergency… or not 

By tracking their condition over time, patients can more readily understand trends in symptoms and identify an issue that should be addressed by their clinician. The telehealth platform lets patients contact their clinician directly. The clinical portal lets clinicians monitor symptoms and survey responses in real time and contact a patient proactively if something is amiss. 

Evaluating patient and health care team satisfaction with RPM implementation is essential to ensuring that the system meets patient and provider needs and that problem areas are identified for continued improvement. Patient advisory councils, one-time focus groups, feedback sessions or in-depth interviews can be enabled by telephone or video conference. Involving diverse and representative patient voices throughout RPM implementation is crucial to enhancing equity.  

Below are resources on assessing the telemedicine and RPM implementation process: 

· American Academy of Family Physicians: A Toolkit for Building and Growing a Sustainable Telehealth Program in Your Practice. A comprehensive guide to developing and improving a telemedicine program. Includes a sample patient satisfaction survey (page 30) covering the scheduling process, pre-visit support and the telemedicine visit. 

· American Medical Association: Telehealth Implementation Playbook. Outlines components of the telemedicine implementation process. Contains templates (pages 119–123) for gathering feedback from the implementation team, clinicians and patients on their telemedicine experience. 

What do you think? Share your thoughts with the Community Forum.  

1. How does your organization align remote patient-monitoring adoption strategies with health equity initiatives? 

2. How does your organization prioritize RPM and other virtual solutions for vulnerable populations?  

3. What clinical or operational challenges should stakeholders consider when implementing digital solutions for engaging vulnerable populations?