Mayo Clinic study highlights remote patient monitoring program progress during COVID-19

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A new study by Mayo Clinic investigators highlights the development and implementation of the healthcare organization’s large-scale COVID-19 Remote Patient Monitoring Program, which has served more than 7,000 patients across 41 states, according to results published in the journal NPJ Digital Medicine.

The study included the development of protocols to assess patients' technical readiness following enrollment, including providing instructions in multiple languages, Remote Patient Monitoring equipment delivery directly to patients' home or recovery location, and utilization of a technology platform with integrated cellular-enabled connectivity to support patients without Internet access. Staff monitored patient engagement and used asynchronous and synchronous communication, such as secure messages and telephone calls to check in with patients and offer nonclinical assistance. These interventions contributed to an overall patient engagement rate of 78.9 percent, demonstrating that patients engage with the technology and a centralized remote care team.

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) shut down routine activity in the U.S. in March 2020, hospitals rushed to develop new ways to support non-hospitalized patients with COVID-19 who were at risk for severe illness, the researchers said. The Mayo Clinic expanded telemedicine services, including Remote Patient Monitoring at that time.

"We determined the feasibility and safety of a COVID-19 Remote Patient Monitoring Program by carefully considering patient engagement with the technology, including rates of alerts and escalations, the role of virtual care teams in patient monitoring, acute care resources, and patient clinical outcomes," said Tufia Haddad, MD, medical director for the COVID-19 Remote Patient Monitoring Program in Mayo Clinic's Center for Digital Health and medical oncologist. "Our goal with the Remote Patient Monitoring Program was to help prevent severe illness among high-risk patients with COVID-19, reduce the burden on hospitals and emergency departments, and preserve personal protective equipment for front-line healthcare workers."

As Mayo Clinic implemented its COVID-19 Remote Patient Monitoring program, planners weren't sure if patients would engage with the remote monitoring technology and a virtual care team while dealing with the symptoms of the virus.

"We give our patients who participated in the program a lot of credit for their willingness to help us study how effective this care might be in supporting them and other patients in the future," said Haddad. "By sharing our program implementation, feasibility and safety outcomes, we aim to provide evidence to maintain some of the regulatory and medical licensure guidelines that were relaxed.”

Haddad said these changes enabled care delivery across state lines in response to a public health emergency.

"We further believe the results of this study support the 2021 expansion of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid's final rule to reimburse for qualifying Remote Patient Monitoring Program services for acute condition management," said Haddad. "These were major barriers to telehealth and virtual care adoption prior to the pandemic, and these study results may help inform other needed healthcare policy changes to sustain adoption of this technology beyond the COVID-19 pandemic."

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