RPM project in Quebec dramatically improves lives of diabetic patients

November 3, 2017

Orion Health developed an internet based RPM solution for the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services...

RPM, an acronym more associated with what gives your car its zoom-zoom than with revolutionizing home healthcare. But Remote Patient Management promises to do just that. And nowhere more so in Canada than in Quebec, where RPM is piloting a quiet revolution in lower cost healthcare and happier patients via Orion Health’s telehealth technology and know-how.

Orion Health developed an internet based RPM solution for the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, which launched it in November 2015. The Orion Health RPM has demonstrated that it can substantially reduce emergency department visits and at the same time decrease patient hospital stays.

In its simplest form, RPM collects patient medical data in one location and transmits this information electronically to clinicians elsewhere for analysis and recommended treatment.

Orion Health has integrated its RPM technology into its Population Health Management stack and has made that data exchange more sophisticated, says Orion Health’s executive VP for Canada, Gary Folker. “We’ve proven, for example, that RPM provides more efficient treatment of the chronically ill cohort, the 5 percent of the population who account for 60 percent of healthcare costs. The return on investment in RPM is high for them.”

Proof of the Quebec RPM pudding is in the very human hands of Dr Ariane Godbout, an endocrinologist and researcher at the Hôpital St-Luc, part of the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), where Dr Godbout is an associate professor.

She also specializes in the care of pregnant women who have gestational diabetes, a disease on the rise everywhere, and who form one of the targeted groups in the Quebec RPM deployment. Another targeted group is also in the hands of an endocrinologist, a colleague of Dr Godbout, and targets the larger population of chronic diabetics. There are other deployments in the province targeting other chronic diseases like COPD, heart failure and others. As of today, just shy of 3,000 patients have gone through the Quebec RPM program.

Dr Godbout’s group of over 300 gestational diabetic women have used either an electronic tablet given to them or their own computer to reach the RPM portal. There they register their daily health activities, in compliance or not, with their care plans. What the RPM team is looking for in that data are signs of deteriorating health.

What the patients can look for is reliable information about their condition and how to live better with it. In effect, the RPM is a sidekick to the patient, available to them anytime and making it easier to adhere to treatment plans and medication regimes.

By checking in regularly, patients remind themselves when to take their medications and which symptoms to watch out for, as well as receiving tips on lifestyle habits to keep them out of hospital. 

At the caregiver end, an RPM algorithm will alert a monitoring nurse with a red flag if, for instance, a patient’s sugar levels suddenly jump out of normal range.

The nurse can then contact the patient immediately with remedial action. Patients can also reach out to that nurse with questions about their care in an email. This interactive nature allows Dr Godbout and her staff to adjust each patient’s care regularly and judge how well patients are learning to live healthier lives on their own.

As a result, almost all patients involved in the Orion Health RPM deployments have complied with their care plans. The early conclusion is that when an RPM empowers patients with the right tools to take control of their own health, they do so willingly.

The original article can be found in the Canadian Healthcare Technology (pg. 12) here.

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