Just as there are guidelines for identifying individuals most likely to benefit from remote monitoring, healthcare organizations must also choose remote monitoring vendor partners with care, advises Gail Miller, vice president of telephonic clinical operations in Humana's care management organization, Humana Cares/SeniorBridge, who shared lessons gleaned from vendor selection for Humana's nine separate pilots of remote patient monitoring.
I want to share how Humana chose the partners that we work with in these programs, because there are so many potential vendors to work with in the remote monitoring space. We had been evaluating companies off and on for about a year. We ended up doing a request for information (RFI) process with the top 25 we had identified internally. They weren't necessarily the biggest vendors or the companies with the strongest balance sheet, but rather those that met the different capability criteria we were looking for and possessed the flexibility and creativity to work with us.
Some think that it’s a good idea to warn people when you’re going to be working with a large entity like Humana, so that the companies we choose are prepared to deal with our procurement and legal processes, and understand it will take some resources on their side. Since the change to the HIPAA rule in 2013 there iss more downstream liability, so we require additional business liability insurance, and our business information agreements are quite stiff. All of those things must be worked through before we can work with a vendor.
We were also looking for companies that could be easily scalable. You could have a great piece of equipment, but if it’s going to take ten months or a year to procure another thousand, that’s not going to work for us because we have to be thinking on a national basis. We also were looking for vendors willing to work with members with various home situations. We did not want to exclude anybody from our pilot.
For example, some of the equipment we looked at would only run if there were broadband in the home. We needed someone to put some type of device that they could plug in, that would help boost them or create a 4G or 3G network wherever they were. We needed to adapt to the different home situations that our individuals lived in.
Then, the equipment had to be senior friendly. We learned a lesson from a great study with Intel about three years ago. The results had some positives and some negatives, but one thing we learned was that the size of the equipment was important. At that time, the piece of equipment we were using weighed about 37 pounds. Because of the frail nature of some of our members, we had to hire an intermediary to do setup and delivery and then package it up and send it back afterward. It created a lot of extra cost and a little more confusion trying to arrange those deliveries and pickups.
One thing that we are dedicated to doing this time is making sure that whatever equipment we had in the home that we could manage it easily, and that hopefully the senior themselves or their caregiver would be able to set it up.