How to Implement Surgical Remote Monitoring: What to do After Go-Live, and How to Achieve Ongoing Success

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August 5, 2021

Remote monitoring solutions certainly disrupt traditional healthcare delivery, but as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, they provide an effective replacement for in-person interaction between patients and healthcare providers. As the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt long after its resolution, remote monitoring solutions continue to play a critical role in increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery. Surgical Remote Monitoring platforms like SeamlessMD have been proven to reduce hospital LOS, readmissions, ED visits, and costs while also increasing patient satisfaction.

Before launching, a successful Surgical Remote Monitoring program should establish a strong training program prior to the launch of the technology to ensure staff are adequately prepared and are aware of responsibilities. After launching, organizations must do their due diligence to ensure that proper steps are being taken to sustain the program in order to maximize the long-term benefits of the technology.

Frequent data review & team huddles early on

You will be learning a lot during the first few weeks after Go-Live. You may even recognize some workflow issues to troubleshoot early on - that is normal and OK. The important thing is that your team is meeting regularly to collaborate, resolve issues and make improvements.

For the first 2-3 months, it is best for your steering committee or core stakeholder team to meet weekly to review metrics and determine whether your processes such as patient education, enrollment, and dashboard monitoring are working well. A typical agenda includes:

  • Review patient adoption & activity
  • Review patient feedback
  • Review staff feedback (particularly on workflow)
  • Identify, troubleshoot and resolve issues

Once the processes are stable, teams can typically move to monthly and then eventually quarterly reviews.

For ongoing and long term success, follow these two key steps:

  1. Review patient & staff feedback often and iterate both the :
    • Implementation approach and clinical workflows;
    • Care plan content
  2. Share your results & patient feedback with your core Surgical Remote Monitoring team and the broader hospital staff to continuously motivate team members and rally the organization around your initiative.
    • For example, share patient testimonials and success stories (e.g. catching infections earlier) with your hospital community

Outcomes and ROI analysis

Most hospital administrators see value in performing an outcomes or ROI analysis after the first 100 patients complete the Surgical Remote Monitoring program. The typical endpoint for the patient journey in a program is 30 days post-discharge.

While there are different types of analysis that can be done, the easiest and fastest analysis hospitals can do are:

      1. Pre vs post-intervention analysis

  • Compare the outcomes/costs of the previous 100 patients before the program with the first 100 patients who use the program

       2. Simultaneous cohort analysis

  • Compare 100 patients who enrolled in the program with 100 patients who did not enroll in the program

The data collected from your first 100 patients will help your team understand what’s going well, what can be improved and start to provide evidence to show a ROI for program sustainability and scale.

Leverage aggregate PRO data for quality improvement initiatives

Although your initial reason for implementing a Surgical Remote Monitoring program may have been to immediately reduce the surgical backlog, one of the amazing opportunities to consider is using the aggregate Patient-Reported Outcome (PRO) data for quality improvement (QI) and research.

Surgical Remote Monitoring platforms are often collecting large volumes of PRO datasets on protocol compliance, symptoms, pain scores, opioid consumption, anxiety scores, etc. 

Insights from this aggregated data can be used to drive QI initiatives, such as understanding post-op opioid consumption at home, and using that to safely reduce opioid prescription practices in the future.

Best practice is to leverage your leverage monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly meetings to review as a team, or simply include a review of the PRO data as part of your regular surgical quality meetings.

Participate in user groups to collaborate, learn & disseminate best practices

Congratulations! By now you should understand the broad strokes of How to Implement Surgical Remote Monitoring.

To continue growing and succeeding, some Surgical Remote Monitoring programs have benefited from “user groups” where hospitals using the same platform meet monthly or quarterly to benchmark data, collaborate and share best practices. 

These “multi-center collaboratives” are often set up by surgery type (e.g. SeamlessMD’s Cardiac Collaborative) and/or by geographical location (e.g. SeamlessMD’s Ontario hospital user group).

These multi-site collaboratives allow users to:

  1. Benchmark patient-reported outcomes (PROs): Access multi-center benchmarking dashboards to benchmark performance on measures such as pain, anxiety, early post-op mobilization, opioid use, protocol compliance, etc.
  2. Share best practices: Providers hold regular conference calls to review the benchmarking dashboards, identify high performers and share best practices to lower performing centers. Best practices can be Surgical Remote Monitoring-related (e.g. how to get higher patient adoption) or more broad in nature for quality improvement (e.g. having a higher performer on patient self-reported pain share their clinical pain protocols).
  3. Perform original, multi-center PRO research: For example, the SeamlessMD Cardiac Collaborative has presented multi-center Patient-Reported Outcomes research at past American Association for Thoracic Surgery and Society for Thoracic Surgery conferences, showing how multiple organizations used PRO benchmarking to improve practice for early-mobilization and pain management.

Celebrate wins (big and small)

Finally, make sure to celebrate every win and milestone in your initiative.

  • Celebrate enrolling your 1st patient, your 10th patient and your 100th patient.
  • Share patient feedback and testimonials with your core team and the whole organization
  • Announce the launch of your program with a press release and share it with your broader community
  • When your care teams catch complications (e.g. wound infections) earlier, share those success stories across your organization

These little acts compound over time, lead to more staff enthusiasm and drive momentum for more success over time.

Good luck with your Surgical Remote Monitoring journey!

Check out our podcast episode on “How to Implement Surgical Remote Monitoring” where we discuss the topic in-depth (Timestamp: 57:30).

Want a step-by-step plan to help you get started with a Surgical Remote Monitoring program? Download our free whitepaper here for a practical guide on how to get started with a Surgical Remote Monitoring program today.

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