For many years, healthcare executives have questioned whether it is better to build or buy remote patient monitoring solutions as a strategy for reducing E.R, visits, hospital re-admissions, and more. After all, hospitals and home health agencies are incented by Medicare to reduce unnecessary readmissions, and nearly all healthcare leaders agree that telemonitoring is an effective solution.
The question, though, has lingered: build or buy, build or buy?
To answer this question, pros and cons are weighed as executives try their best to determine which path is most cost effective and efficient for their healthcare organization. Without a doubt, building your own remote patient monitoring solution comes with great risks, if for no other reason than the pace of technology innovation is accelerating at an almost exponential rate, making it difficult for the average healthcare organization to stay current with advances in telemonitoring technology.
Advantages to Building, as Well as Buying
Sure, there are some advantages of building a solution, such as maintaining total control over features and functions, having a program specific to your needs, including the reporting functions, and owning the system outright.
However, the advantages of buying a remote patient monitoring program are equally compelling, including having a ready-made solution when you need it, having greater flexibility and adaptability, not having to worry about staffing, being able to leverage the thousands of hours of research and development that have already gone into creating the system, not having to worry about “bugs,” and the ability to access expert support and training.
Perhaps the greatest advantage outsourced services have over built systems is that typically, outsourced remote patient monitoring services are continuously enhanced through customer input and anticipate your future needs rather than having you react to them.
Both Build and Buy Have Disadvantages, Too
If we’re going to compare the advantages of the build vs. buy question, then we also have to explore the disadvantages. If you are thinking about building your own solution, then first consider these disadvantages:
- The time required to determine your exact needs, configure the system, integrate with other business systems, and respond to user change requests.
- Internal training and support will be required – indefinitely.
- Staying current with technology will be challenging.
- The functionality of your system will likely be lower than a system you purchase.
- The up-front and ongoing capital costs can be taxing.
- You will have to constantly worry about staffing.
So, if these are the disadvantages to building a telemonitoring solution, then what are the disadvantages to buying one?
The fact is, there aren’t many. Sure, your outsourced partner owns the system, but this gives you the ability to get started quickly and exit even faster – if you discover that remote patient monitoring is not for your organization (try winding down your own telemonitoring department after you’ve made a sizeable capital investment). And, yes, the features and functions of the service are determined by your vendor and may not precisely fit your exact needs.
These, however, seem to be small concessions when compared to the disadvantages of building your own remote patient monitoring service – which may be why more hospitals and home health agencies are turning to Advanced TeleHealth Solutions for their telemonitoring needs. Whether you settle on building or buying, ATHS can provide the clinical support that is needed for the success of either program.
About Karen Thomas
Karen Thomas is a certified management accountant and the president of Advanced TeleHealth Solutions, one of the leading telehealth monitoring companies in the U.S. Karen is a nationally renowned speaker, a lecturer for Missouri State University’s graduate-level Health Care Administration program, and a contributing author to, “Home Telehealth: Connecting Care Within the Community,” published by Royal Society of Medicine Press Ltd. Karen has appeared on numerous webinars and has spoken at dozens of conferences on the benefits of remote patient monitoring, generating enhanced clinical outcomes, patient engagement, and coordination of care. She is a member of the Missouri Governors Innovation Task Force, a past board member of the National Association for Home Care and Private Duty Home Care Association, a member of the American Telemedicine Association and the American Society on Aging, and a past ex-officio member of the advisory board of HealthCare Technology Association of America.