What Is the Difference Between Remote Patient Monitoring and Telehealth?

Find out the difference between telehealth and remote patient monitoring, how they’re related, and what benefits these services provide.

October 31, 2022
What Is the Difference Between Remote Patient Monitoring and Telehealth?

For patients and practitioners alike, technology is making it easier and more efficient to schedule and hold appointments, transfer medical files and health data, and even monitor patient health data remotely. But with how quickly these exciting and innovative health technologies are evolving, new terms are being used on what feels like a daily basis. 

In this article, we break down the difference between two important phrases—telehealth and remote patient monitoring—by sharing what they are, how they’re related, and some of their primary benefits.

What Is Telehealth?

Telehealth, sometimes referred to as telemedicine, is an umbrella term that describes the  different kinds of technology and telecommunications tools that allow patients and providers to connect or share information remotely. 

To be clear: telehealth cannot replace many aspects of traditional medical care, but the benefits of telehealth, in general, are plentiful. For patients, it can help limit exposure to contagions through virtual visits, shorten wait times, and provide increased access to care providers and specialists. And it’s a win-win, too. Telehealth allows medical professionals to see more patients in the same amount of time while also improving their workflows to make sure things run smoothly, just to name a few.

Of course, as a broad category, telehealth describes so many different kinds of virtual healthcare practices. To more narrowly define these types of services, telehealth is often divided into sub-categories. So, what are the 4 types of telehealth? They are live video, store-and-forward, mobile health, and remote patient monitoring.

  • Live Video: This type of telehealth uses audiovisual telecommunications tools to directly connect patients with providers in real time. Live video appointments can make healthcare more accessible, as they can be a replacement for some in-person consultative, diagnostic, educational, and treatment appointments. 
  • Store-and-Forward: Store-and-forward enables the electric transmission of medical files, including things like X-rays, MRIs, digital images, patient data, and more, after they have been collected. It is most common in dermatology, ophthalmology, pathology, and radiology.
  • Mobile Health: Perhaps the newest form of telehealth, mobile health refers to healthcare and health education that is enabled by mobile devices. For example, text messages or in-app notifications could alert users about healthy behaviors or wide-scale health outbreaks.
  • Remote Patient Monitoring: Finally, remote patient monitoring (RPM) refers to the practice of using technology to assist patients in gathering and reporting their health data to their healthcare provider. RPM allows medical professionals to track data points including weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood oxygen levels. With RPM, all of this can be done without requiring nurses to call individual patients to gather data. 

What Is Remote Patient Monitoring in Simple Words?

As defined above, remote patient monitoring is a type of telehealth that uses technology to gather, monitor, and report a patient’s health data to healthcare providers. To answer the title of this blog, the difference between remote patient monitoring and telehealth is this: RPM is a subcategory of telehealth that uses technology to collect and report patient data to medical professionals. Think of it like the square / rectangle rule: not all telehealth is remote patient monitoring, but all remote patient monitoring is telehealth.

What does all of this mean in simple terms? RPM empowers patients to use remote patient monitoring wearables and other devices from the comfort of their own home. Using technology like Bluetooth, their data is automatically sent to providers or easily uploaded—and on their own schedule. 

Remote patient monitoring devices used with RPM include:

  • Blood pressure cuffs
  • Glucometers
  • Pulse oximeters
  • Scales
  • Spirometers
  • Step counters and other wearables
  • Thermometers

What Is the Need for Remote Patient Monitoring?

Remote patient monitoring is designed to help keep patients healthy, which is especially important for medical facilities looking to qualify for Value-Based Care (VBC) for Medicare and Medicaid patients. Because VBC champions patient outcomes, specific results like reducing hospital readmissions are vital. RPM plays a critical role in this. By automatically receiving patient data, providers are able to track that data and make quick decisions—like bringing a patient in for an appointment or making changes to prescriptions—should it begin to show signs of deterioration. 

Especially for providers and specialists who work under the VBC model, remote patient monitoring offers significant ROI. When medical professionals choose Harmonize Health as their RPM partner, for example, they see results like:

  • A 43% decrease in ER visits
  • A 61% decrease in hospital admissions
  • $7,000 in savings in health care costs per patient
  • A 70% increase in patient engagement
  • A 40% increase in patient satisfaction

Harmonize Health: Your Partner in Remote Patient Monitoring

At Harmonize Health, we like to say that our remote patient monitoring platform is so simple that patients actually use it. With our solution, it takes our patients roughly three minutes to submit their data, and we see a 97% engagement rate month to month. All of that translates to helping providers give the greatest patient care possible while also avoiding costly interventions or hospital admissions.

Ready to get started? Reach out today to set up a demo.

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