Five Updates Show That Now Is The Time To Add Remote Patient Monitoring To Your Practice
Driving better health outcomes using technology was already a hot topic prior to 2020. The COVID-19 crises accelerated that trend significantly, by driving the adoption of remote care management solutions across the entire industry. Other factors are also showing that now is the time to add remote patient monitoring to your practice.
Remote Patient Monitoring, or RPM, is one of the remote care services experiencing a significant rise in adoption during the crisis. RPM enables patients to take vital health measurements in their home and have the results sent automatically to their provider for review. Regular monitoring and assessment of key healthcare readings can help providers with recommendations and instructions for their patients. In some cases, early identification of trends and out-of-range reading have kept patients out of Emergency Departments and avoided re-admissions. When combined with telehealth visits, RPM can often serve almost all patients remotely.
The use of RPM was on the upswing prior to 2020 and the pandemic has only accelerated its adoption. In addition, here are five recent updates that indicate now is the time to add RPM to your practice.
1. Updates to the CPT codes significantly enhance reimbursement
The four CPT codes, 99453, 99454, 99457, and 99458, that are used for RPM have all been updated in 2020 to provide better reimbursement for practices. 99453 provides a one-time payment for enrolling a patient and teaching them to use their devices ($21). 99454 covers a monthly recurring payment for the remote monitoring and management of the devices in the patient’s home ($55). 99457 is for the first 20 minutes per month of clinical staff time communicating with the patient or caregiver ($55), and 99458 provides for two additional 20-minute blocks of clinical staff time. 99458 can be used twice per month ($44 each use).
When added together, a practice can earn up to $207 per month per enrolled patient. On average, providers participating in the RPM program with Remote Care Partners average about $150 per patient per month. With just 50 patients enrolled in the program, this could add $90,000 of new revenue to the practice. Once the cost of running the program is deducted, this is about $70,000 of net new revenue for the practice. Remember that is for just 50 patients.
2. Medicare expands guidelines
The original guidelines for RPM issued by CMS required that the provider, or someone “under the direct supervision” of the provider needed to review data and interact with patients. The updated guidelines now require only “general supervision” of those reviewing the data. This allows much more flexibility when implementing the program.
In addition, patients can now be enrolled in both RPM and Chronic Care Management (CCM) services simultaneously. Time spent with the patient or reviewing their data can only be applied to one program or the other in any month, but this does open additional reimbursement opportunities for certain patients.
3. Private payers are now reimbursing for RPM
RPM is now payable by Medicare and 23 state Medicaid programs (as of June 2020, according to the Center for Connected Health Policy). Also, numerous private payers are now covering RPM programs. In many cases, their reimbursement rates are higher than CMS. With thousands of patients currently on the Remote Care Partners platform, we have yet to see a private payer deny payment for RPM. This also removes a roadblock, as RPM can now be offered to patients under the age of 65.
4. The impact of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has had tremendous impact across the entire healthcare industry. RPM is an effective tool for improving patient outcomes, while continuing to keep patients safe in their homes while monitoring the progression of their conditions and treatments. CMS issued guidance in late March regarding RPM in its “”Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Policy and Regulatory Revisions in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency” interim final rule.
Most important, CMS made permanent the change that allowed remote patient monitoring to be used for Medicare patients with acute conditions. This expanded the coverage that was previously limited to patients with two or more chronic conditions under the original CCM rules. Many other rules were also relaxed to give more flexibility to providers (e.g., geographic restrictions, type of practice) during the pandemic. It also established that reimbursement be the same for both telehealth and in-person visits.
5. Patient Acceptance of RPM
The success of an RPM program is highly dependent on patient acceptance and adherence. Without the required minimum of 16 readings per month, no reimbursement can be made. However, many programs fail because patients report that it is too difficult to use measuring devices and transmit the data to the provider via a smartphone application.
Remote Care Partners has addressed this issue in two ways. First, our SmartHub technology means that there is no set-up for the patient. This 4G device does not use the patient’s Internet or WiFi Connection. The patient simply plugs in the device. It automatically finds the strongest 4G signal from among a number of carriers and connects to the RCP Cloud. The device then announces that it is connected and ready to transmit readings to their provider.
The devices used by RCP are commercially available. There were selected based on ease-of-use and accuracy. In addition, devices are shipped pre-paired with the SmartHub. Once the SmartHub announces that it is connected to the RCP Cloud, patients simply use any of the available devices (Blood Pressure Cuff, No-Touch Thermometer, Weight Scale, Spirometer, Glucose Monitor, and Pulse Oximeter) to take a measurement. When a device is turned on, the SmartHub announces that the device is recognized. When they are done taking the measurement, the SmartHub announces that the measurement has been received and that it is being transmitted to their provider.
Remote Care Partners also drives adherence using interactive messaging. If a reading is not received by a certain time of day (tunable on a patient-by-patient basis) the platform will automatically call or text (or both) based on the patient preference.
The Best Time To Plant a Tree
There is an adage that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is right now.
The alignment between technology and need has accelerated the adoption of Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring. Tyler Fletcher, global head of medical, advertising, and Americas consulting at GlobalData, during a HIMSS20 Digital session said that the RPM market is set to double in the next five years.
If you haven’t begun implementing RPM and other technology-driven solutions that serve out-of-office patient programs, now is the time. Deliver better patient outcomes and prepare your practice for what the future holds with Remote Patient Monitoring from Remote Care Partners.