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In 2016, Physicians will be Confronted with Serious Questions Related to Remote Patient Monitoring

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Medical Economics recently compiled a list of the “Top 10 challenges facing physicians in 2016.” So far, these challenges have involved ever-changing payment models, the 2016 elections and healthcare reform, chronic care management, payer consolidation, the decision to remain independent or seek employment, the challenges related to MOC, Meaningful Use Stage 2 attestation, and the proliferation of remote medicine.

In 2016, physicians will have to start figuring out how remote patient monitoring affects specific points in the care continuum.

Wrapping up our look at the challenges related to remote medicine, we take a look at the elephant—or the conundrum, if you will—in the room.

As with most new technology, Medical Economics observes, remote patient monitoring is developing faster than physicians’ understanding of how it is transforming patient care.

Steven Waldren, MD, director of the Alliance for eHealth Innovation at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), points out that remote patient monitoring is “being done mostly with high-risk patients with serious conditions, and often with the goal of preventing readmissions. But Waldren believes that, as the technology evolves, mobile and home monitoring might be used routinely to help patients manage common chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.”

This means that data will be pouring into physician offices, even as physicians struggle to effectively screen monitoring data, he said. “A mass of raw data from blood glucose monitoring, for example, isn’t going to be much help in managing a patient with diabetes. It has to be analyzed, both in light of the patient’s daily and weekly trends and in the context of the patient’s other vital signs and health behavior. Moreover, the data from various monitoring devices and apps has to be integrated at the practice level, he adds.”

We’re probably a good five years away from having the tools that will enable mobile and home monitoring, the article notes, but Dr. Waldren is adamant about physicians being on top of this technology.

“From a doctor perspective, you have to figure out how to leverage telemedicine to provide more for your patients,” he said. “Somebody else will do it if you don’t. How you do that and make sure that fits with your patients and your bottom line will be an important piece going forward.”

We’ll add that being savvy and on top of this technology will also make you more competitive in the job market.

As physicians who are looking for jobs, what are your predictions for the evolution of remote patient monitoring? How will it change the way you deliver care?

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