With Robert Flippo
MobileHelp / Clear Arch Health, CEO
In this Digital Health Wire Q&A, we sat down with MobileHelp CEO Robert Flippo to discuss the shifting remote patient monitoring landscape and how new technologies are enabling more people to age independently.
Clear Arch Health is MobileHelp’s healthcare division, which integrates RPM and personal emergency response systems (PERS) into a turnkey solution that’s easy to implement for both patients and providers.
Can you give us a quick introduction to Clear Arch Health and your overall strategy?
Our overarching goal from the very beginning has really been to improve people’s ability to age independently, starting with our consumer-facing MobileHelp personal emergency response business, and also with our Clear Arch Health remote patient monitoring platform.
To enable people to age wherever they want, which is usually in the home, you need a platform that’s both flexible and proactive. There’s the actual clinical monitoring component, where clinicians are managing patients, keeping track of vitals, checking on medications, etc. Then there’s also all the data that results from that.
A lot of people think about RPM as devices, but there’s a whole system behind those devices that’s analyzing that data to more effectively manage patients. Controlling that entire tech stack is what lets us help people age independently, and that’s the real mission here.
The longer people can remain independent, the happier they’re going to be.
How does your experience in PERS support the remote patient monitoring aspect of your business, and what sort of capabilities do you unlock by combining the two?
There’s a couple of pieces to it. First and foremost, the patients who are typically in need of PERS are also more likely to need chronic disease management using remote patient monitoring. So for the consumer, combining the two really simplifies the experience.
That’s hugely important when you think about this demographic. One of the major lessons we’ve learned from working with this population for over 15 years now is the importance of having a seamless platform that’s intuitive for someone that might be over the age of 75.
It’s easy for a lot of companies to get caught up with the shiniest tech and all of its bells and whistles, but the patients that we’re working with usually want the exact opposite.
This fundamental understanding of our customer base drives the design of everything from our hardware and installation to our customer service and manual. It’s powerful in its simplicity and fully turnkey. You plug our products in, and they work.
Can you give an overview of that hardware and the other components of the platform that you layer on top of it?
I’d say that a lot of people think of the hardware as the whole solution. It’s an important part, and it needs to be safe and reliable and all of those things, but at the end of the day it is just one component, like you said.
The flagship product for our remote patient monitoring service is a custom tablet solution that we’ve developed and manufactured for both RPM and personal emergency response. It’s purpose-built for our customers with loud speakers, sensitive microphones, and easy connectivity – but it’s also highly configurable.
Depending on the program that’s being developed, we can provide unique content for education, or a direct connection to nursing staff for video visits, but all of it is integrated with the EMR so that care teams can also have a seamless experience and access to the data.
When we deploy a program with a new client, the set-up, the training, and the ability to interact with patients directly are all just as important as the hardware. There’s at least as much service in this industry as there is technology.
There’s recently been a major shift to RPM and home health in general. What are some of the biggest changes that you’ve seen over the last few years?
One of the biggest changes has been the willingness of CMS or Medicare to actually reimburse remote patient monitoring for chronic disease management.
Up until recently, home health agencies were tasked with taking care of patients after they were discharged from the hospital, and one of their primary incentives was to try and prevent readmissions – yet there wasn’t a specific line item that covered remote patient monitoring. RPM has now been proven to prevent readmissions, and reimbursement is following.
The other major change has been the flood of new entrants into the space, both from small startups and larger companies more at scale like we are. In my view, that’s actually created a lot of noise in the market, and it’s now more difficult than ever to separate out who the real players are and how they might be able to help.
What are the biggest trends you’re seeing in the aging in place segment that might not be getting the attention they deserve?
I don’t think that it’s so much a specific trend that people are overlooking, as much as the fact that we’re only just starting to see the beginning of what the possibilities are. At a certain point, these programs are generating so much data that the real challenge becomes getting the value out of it.
The introduction of new AI tools is giving us the ability to analyze that data in real time, which will let more people age independently by allowing us to pick up on situations that might be difficult to spot by a human looking at the raw data.
The reality is that there aren’t enough caregivers to take care of the population that’s going to be aging in place over the next 10 to 20 years, so if we don’t figure out how to use this technology to more effectively manage patients, we’re going to be in a tough spot. In my opinion, it’s not really an option that we succeed here, it’s a necessity.
Is there any advice that you would give to a provider organization or health system thinking about implementing their own remote patient monitoring strategy?
When you really dig into it, remote patient monitoring is probably more complicated than you’d originally think. The key to overcoming that is finding the right partner for your situation.
If you’ve seen one remote patient monitoring solution, you’ve seen one remote patient monitoring solution. Everybody’s situation is different, even within health systems. They’re generally solving for the same problem, but they all have unique requirements and capabilities, so finding a partner that can help navigate to the right solution and that’s flexible enough to implement it will give you a much higher probability of success.
For more on Clear Arch Health’s RPM platform, head over to their website.